KQED Deep Look

KQED‘s short video series, Deep Look, takes you to the edge of our visible world.  Here are some Deep Look stories that feature the research of UC Berkeley Entomologists and other fascinating stories about insects, spiders, and their kin.

California oak moths – “California oak moth caterpillars eat all the leaves on an oak, leaving a brown skeleton. Then they rappel down on a strand of silk, twirling and swinging. If you were enjoying the shade, good luck getting out of their way. For the oak, the caterpillars are a bigger deal – will the tree survive?” Featuring Essig Museum curator Peter Oboyski (Jan.2020).


Spider webs – “Most spiders have a brain no larger than a poppy seed, but with this modest cerebral endowment, they not only construct intricate insect traps, they expertly expand their senses far beyond the limits of their bodies, using their webs as a physical extension of their perceptual abilities.” Featuring UC Berkeley graduate student Ashley Adams (Sep.2020).


Glasswing butterflies – “Named for their transparent wings, glasswing butterflies have evolved a clever disappearing act to avoid their many predators in the rainforests of South and Central America.” Featuring UC Berkeley graduate student Aaron Pomerantz (Jun.2020)


Meeting a wormlion is the pits – “Ominous creatures that lurk deep underground in the desert, like the sandworms in the classic science fiction novel “Dune,” aren’t just make-believe. For ants and other prey, wormlions are a terrifying reality.” Featuring UC Berkeley natural history photographer Joyce Gross (Jun. 2019)


This millipede and beetle have a toxic relationship – “Millipedes have to fend off insects, mammals, reptiles and amphibians looking for a tasty meal. But they have a secret weapon — an array of toxic chemicals they shoot from special glands. One Bay Area species, Xystocheir dissecta, carries deadly cyanide and benzaldehyde.” From the lab of UC Berkeley professor Kipling Will (Apr. 2019)


With California drought over, fewer Sierra pines dying – “While oaks and incense cedars die directly from a lack of water, ponderosa pines are killed by a bark beetle that proliferates when trees are weakened by drought. Western pine beetles carve winding tunnels as they eat their way through the phloem and lay their eggs.” Featuring UC Berkeley forest health extension specialist Jodi Axelson (Oct. 2017)


The bombardier beetle and its crazy chemical cannon – “When attacked, this beetle sets off a rapid chemical reaction inside its body, sending predators scrambling. This amazing chemical defense has some people scratching their heads: How could such a complex system evolve gradually—without killing the beetle too?” From the lab of UC Berkeley professor Kipling Will (Mar. 2016)


What Gall! The crazy cribs of parasitic wasps – “Plenty of animals build their homes in oak trees. But some very teeny, tricky wasps make the tree do all the work. The wasps are called gall-inducers. And each miniature mansion that the trees build for the wasps’ larvae is weirder and more flamboyant than the next.” Featuring Essig Museum research associate Kathy Schick (Nov. 2014)


What gives the blue morpho its magnificent blue? – “What does it mean to be blue? The wings of a Morpho butterfly are some of the most brilliant structures in nature, and yet they contain no blue pigment — they harness the physics of light at the nanoscale.” From the lab of UC Berkeley professor Nipam Patel (Dec. 2014)


Watch bed bugs get stopped in their tracks – “Until the 1940s, bed bugs were a common occurrence in the U.S. After being nearly eradicated by the spraying of DDT in the 1950s, they’ve made a comeback worldwide in the past 20 years, aided by the widespread movement of people.” (Jul. 2019)