The Curious Webspinner Insect Knits a Cozy Home | Deep Look

The Curious Webspinner Insect Knits a Cozy Home | Deep Look


Ok, under a log, you uncover a wispy white web. You’re thinking: spider. Not so fast. This maze of woven silk has nothing to do
with arachnids. It’s actually created by a kind of insect
called a webspinner. They’re related to stick insects and praying
mantises. Never heard of ’em? Not surprised. They give spiders a run for their money. Their handiwork is a tent … umbrella … and
invisibility cloak all-in-one. But while spiders produce silk from their
backends, a webspinner’s silk comes from her feet. Yep, her front feet. She intertwines the strands, waving back and
forth, back and forth. She has tiny hair-like ejectors on the bottom
of each foot, which shoot out the silk. It’s the thinnest silk of any animal. The work is painstaking. But the result is pretty cozy – kinda like
a quilted roof. Their home – also known as a gallery – is their
only defense, hiding their soft bodies from predators. There’s also plenty of moss and lichen to
eat inside. So why leave? And if they need to do some housekeeping,
it’s easy to take out the trash. They just stick it to the roof … and forget
about it. The silk also keeps out something they really
like to avoid: rain. Webspinners can easily drown if a downpour
floods their gallery. Luckily, they’ve got exceptional weather-proofing. Water just beads up on the silk’s surface,
like on a rose petal. And that water actually changes the silk,
making the surface more slippery by transforming the proteins. So it becomes extra waterproof. But having silk-slinging front feet has a
downside. Say an unwanted visitor comes along. If they want to get away, webspinners have
to tiptoe to avoid triggering their silk ejectors. Not exactly the fastest runner. So to get away, webspinners dart … backwards,
to avoid getting tangled up. They’re much faster in reverse. Small price to pay for the ability to weave
an entire hidden world. One that will keep the webspinners – and
their young – safe … for generations to come. Hi, it’s Lauren. Music fans – here’s a special playlist for
ya of Deep Look creatures that make music of their own. Also, check out Sound Field, a new show from
PBS Digital Studios that breaks down our favorite songs and artists from all genres … from
Bach to Beyonce. It’s hosted by two amazing musicians, Nahre
Soul and LA Buckner, who even come up with an original song in every episode. Link is in the description. Thanks.

This Killer Fungus Turns Flies into Zombies | Deep Look


We like to think we’re in control … that
our minds are our own. But that’s not true for this fruit fly. Its brain has been hijacked by another organism
and it’s not going to end well. It all starts when the fly is innocently walking
around, sipping on overripe fruit. It picks up an invisible fungus spore, which
bores under its skin. For a few days, everything seems normal. But inside, the fungus is growing, feeding
on the fly’s fat … and infiltrating its mind. At dusk on the fourth or fifth day, the fly
gets a little erratic, wandering around. It climbs to a high place. Scientists call this behavior “summiting.” Then it starts twitching. The fungus is in control. The fly sticks out its mouthpart and spits
out a tiny drop of sticky liquid. That glues the fly down, sealing its fate. A few minutes later, its wings shoot up. And it dies. Now that the fungus has forced the fly into
this death pose … wings out of the way … nothing can stop it. It emerges. Tiny spore launchers burst out of the fly’s
skin. Hundreds of spores shoot out at high speed,
catching a breeze if the fly climbed high enough. They’re the next generation of killer fungus. It continues for hours, spores flying out. These flies are in the wrong place at the
wrong time. And if spores land on a wing, which they can’t
bore into, they shoot out a secondary spore to increase their chances of spreading. So how does a fungus take control of a brain? At Harvard, Carolyn Elya is trying to understand
that. She thinks the fungus secretes chemicals to
manipulate the fly’s neurons, maybe stimulating the ones that make flies climb. But don’t worry: The fungus can’t hurt
humans. Scientists have tried to harness its power
for our benefit, to kill flies in our kitchens and farms. They haven’t had any luck though. The deadly spores are actually pretty fragile
and short-lived. It turns out, this lethal puppet master does
only what it needs to for its *own* survival. Hi, it’s Lauren again. If you love Deep Look, why not help us grow
on Patreon? We’re raising funds to go on a filming expedition
to Oaxaca, Mexico. And for a limited time, we’re sweetening the
deal with a special gift. Link is in the description. And if you’re craving more spooky videos,
here’s a playlist of our scariest episodes. Don’t watch ‘em after midnight. See you soon.

We’ve Got Ants In Our Plants!

We’ve Got Ants In Our Plants!


[MUSIC] If this is your first time in the rainforest,
I get it. All the trees pretty much look alike. Maybe you’re at the end of a long hike,
you wanna take a little break, have a drink of water. So you pick a tree to rest up against and
relax. Well, this would be a very bad tree to pick. It’s full of ants. We’ve got ants in our plants! [MUSIC] Flowering plants first sprouted onto the scene
about 160 million years ago, and they’ve been locked in a dance with insects ever since…
sometimes they give food, sometimes they are food, their evolution’s always been intertwined. But the most complex insect/plant relationships
don’t involve butterflies, beetles, or bees. They belong to the ants. Locals call this the “novice tree” because
there’s a painful lesson waiting for anyone who leans up against it. It’s full of ants. A whole colony lives inside, spread from the
roots up through the highest branches. But inside of a tree is kind of a weird place
to find ants. If only there was somebody around who could
teach me more about this crazy ant/tree relationship! Oh! Oh, look at that! It’s Aaron Pomerantz! Here in the rainforest. How’s it going, Joe? It’s going pretty well, but I’m kind of
curious why ants would want to live inside a tree? Where we’re from ants live in little mounds,
and that’s just how it goes Yeah, this tree can host thousands of ants,
and this is not a short term relationship. The ants can live inside as a colony for years,
for decades even, and their tree grows as the colony grows. You can see that they’re sort of coming out
of these little pits, right? Yeah, there’s holes all up and down this
tree where the ants coming in and out. Yeah and if you were to cut this open or one
of the stems, they would actually be hollow, the ants live inside. That’s right. To these ants, this tree is home. And the ants didn’t tunnel it out themselves. It grew that way. A tree built for a queen and a few hundred
thousand of her children. Inside, the ants not only get a safe place
to raise their young, the tree is also their food source. Tiny scale insects live alongside the ants. In return for free room and board, those bugs
digest tree sap and secrete a nutrient-rich liquid, full of the good stuff ants need. They’re kind of farming them like little
mini insect cows. That’s an adorable… they milk them? Little udders! Yeah! But you have to wonder: what’s in it for
the tree? Why spend all that energy building tunnels
and doors so a bunch of insects can move in and suck out your precious bodily fluids? Because ants are very protective of their
home. It’s really interesting to note we’re
in this barren spot right now. You notice there’s no other plants around
us. And this is caused by the ants, they actually
clear out parts of the rainforest because they want their tree to get more sunlight
so that it can grow. Think about that. If a branch or vine from another plant touches
their tree, they’ll sting it, bite it, and cut it out of the way, like tiny gardeners. Both species put in work, both species get
something in return. Good old mutualism! Plants that house ants are called myrmecophytes. But not all plant/ant relationships are so
evenly balanced. Acacia trees house ant bodyguards that are
so aggressive they can repel an elephant, and in return, they get nectar. But the tree laces that meal with an ingredient
that keeps the ants from digesting nectar from any other plant. They’re chemical slaves to their host. Now one tree of ants is cool, but we found
another species that takes treehouses to the next level. Aaron this is weird over here, we’ve been
walking through dense rainforest all day long, but we’re in a clearing, we’re not dodging
branches, there’s sun above us, what’s happening here? Yeah, this is a really strange part of the
forest that we’re in right now, and this is called the Devil’s Garden. The Devil’s Garden, like did people come
through and clear this out? Is this clear-cutting in the forest? It’s actually entirely caused by ants that
live with this plant. What they’re doing is they’re clearing out
all the space around it and only letting their home plant survive These plants grow little bulbs called domatia,
little ant houses! To keep the ants happy, the plant pumps out
pre-packaged meals called food bodies. And in return, the ants offer protection. Just like tiny Ant-ony Sopranos. Think about how weird that is. This plant grew these hollow bulbs seemingly
for those ants without even knowing that ants exist. And in return that plant gets protection from
things like caterpillars that might want to eat its leaves and those ants get protection
by being up off the rainforest floor, where there’s things like spiders and flies that
want to lay eggs so maggots can eat their brains. It’s a real “you scratch my back, I live inside
your hollow bulbs” relationship/ And they’re clearly very successful at it,
because the ants will climb out of their little homes, onto the ground and just destroy any
other competing plants in the area. They’re really active, they’re out all
over this right now, I think they think we’re plants that are trying to come in here and
grow. So they come down onto the forest floor, do
they like eat, do they chop them down like leafcutters? How do they control that growth? So it’s really cool, they’ll actually
inject, with their stinger, formic acid into the plant, which sort of melts it away kind
of like this herbicide. Yeah, all along this root I see those little
black ants from the tree. They’ve wiped out this little seedling here. It’s dry and crackly and dead, they’re doing
forest control right before my eyes. The line between cooperating and being a parasite
is like this thin. If these yellow Allomerus ants move in, they
castrate the fruits, so instead of devoting energy to reproduction, the plant produces
more food and shelter for the ants. Fun fact: this plant is also known as “huevo
de gato”, which I’ll let you translate yourself. Adios huevos. That’s so awesome that some of the rainforest’s
smallest residents can shape it in such incredible ways. Yeah, the ants are the dominant life force
out here in the rainforest, it’s incredible. Yeah, I found that out the hard way, but man
thanks for showing us that, that is so cool. Alright, stay curious! Um, I thought of a joke. What did the Pink Panther say when he stepped
on an ant mound? What’s that, Joe? Dead ant, dead ant, dead ant dead ant dead
ant! There are so many cool insect plant relationships
in the rainforest. Our friends from Deep Look joined us in Peru
and they made a video about ant/plant betrayal. Head over to their channel to check it out. Alright, we have a tradition on this show. Whenever we make an ant video, I’ve gotta
get stung, so let’s see what happens. Oh that sucks. No that does not feel good. Oh, that’s… it’s different than a fire ant,
it’s not as hot, but it’s definitely a little more needle-like. And piercing. I don’t like it very much. Aw she’s really going to town. Look at that. Ooh, it’s very sharp, ahh, we’re done with
this idea, I think we’re finished. Oh it hurts so much worse afterwards. That’s the last time I mess with this tree. Stay curious! I’m getting away from this thing.

The Double-Crossing Ants to Whom Friendship Means Nothing | Deep Look

The Double-Crossing Ants to Whom Friendship Means Nothing | Deep Look


The Peruvian Amazon rainforest is bursting
with life, but it’s a hard place to make a living,
especially when you’re small. Competition… is fierce. Violence and betrayal are everywhere. Up here, in the canopy? These trees have made it. Lots of leaves. Plenty of sunlight. But down here, on the forest floor, it’s
another story. This sapling desperately needs to grow, to
get more sun. And in the meantime, it’s vulnerable. It doesn’t have many leaves yet. Each one is valuable. Losing just a few could be its demise. So this young tree, it’s called an Inga,
enlists bodyguards.. hundreds of them. These big-headed ants swarm over the sapling,
fighting off any leaf-eating intruders, like this caterpillar. The price of protection: a meal: sugary nectar. The tree serves it up in ant-sized dishes
called nectaries. Both the ant and the tree have something to
gain from the deal. This is called “mutualism.” But that only works when both sides play by
the rules. Here’s another intruder. See how the ants rush to meet it? But they aren’t biting or stinging it. They don’t attack it like they’re supposed
to. Instead the ants just… watch… as the caterpillar gorges on the fresh leaves. They’re just letting it happen. Why? Because they found a better deal. See how the ants tap on the caterpillar’s
rear with their antennae? Those two little pits on the caterpillar’s
back are called tentacle nectaries. When the ants tap, the nectaries secrete drops
of nectar. It’s made of sugar that the caterpillar
drained out of the leaf. In exchange for the payoff, the ants give
the caterpillars free access to their so-called partner, the Inga tree. They’ve been bribed. As for the tree? It’s left weaker, a little less likely to
make it up to the canopy. And that’s the sad story of the young Inga. Sold out for a drop of sugar water by a fairweather
friend. You like ants? We got ants. Lots of ants. Winter ants battle Argentine ants with weapons caught on film for the very first time! Leafcutter ants that have been farming since
before we humans walked the earth. All that and more on Deep Look. So subscribe… And thanks for watching.

You’re Not Hallucinating. That’s Just Squid Skin. | Deep Look

You’re Not Hallucinating. That’s Just Squid Skin. | Deep Look


Cuttlefish… octopuses… and squid have
an almost otherworldly ability to control their appearance. What makes it possible are these spots. They’re called chromatophores. They’re
like tiny water balloons, filled with colored pigment. When the balloons expand, you see more pigment,
more color… When they contract, the color shrinks to a
tiny dot. The overall effect can be really dramatic. And for good reason. These animals don’t have protective external
shells. They’re unarmored. Naked. And they aren’t great swimmers, either. Camouflage is their best defense. They have
to be good at it. Octopuses can change their body position and
the pattern on their skin to match rock or coral. Octopuses and cuttlefish can even change the
texture of their skin to throw off predators. Become bumpier and more rock-like. But squid often live in the open ocean. How
do you blend in when there’s nothing — except water — to blend into? They do it by changing the way light bounces
off their their skin — actually adjust how iridescent their skin is using light reflecting
cells called iridophores. They can mimic the way sunlight filters down
from the surface. Hide in plain sight. So how do they control all this color change? Is it voluntary or some kind of built in reflex? That’s what researchers at Stanford University
wanted to know. So…they anesthetized the squid and then
snipped the nerve from the the brain that controls the chromatophores, but only on one
side of the animal. The brain essentially couldn’t send messages
to the tiny muscles that control those chromatophores anymore. … almost like turning off a light switch. But after a few days, then they noticed something
strange. The chromatophores began blinking again…
even though they were no longer getting signals from the brain. So what does this mean? Well, what it suggests is that color change
might be a bit like breathing is for humans. Something we can either choose to do… or
do automatically. Only… even cooler — because unlike breathing,
color change requires an awareness of your surroundings. And in these animals, that awareness is spread
throughout the skin… as if the skin itself could see. It would be as if your skin knew what color
the walls were, even with your eyes closed. For a soft and squishy creature trying to
stay alive in a very big ocean — it’s a pretty spectacular defense.

Winter is Coming For These Argentine Ant Invaders | Deep Look

Winter is Coming For These Argentine Ant Invaders | Deep Look


Once upon a time, the Argentine ant seemed invincible. Why? Well normally, ants in different colonies
of the same species fight each other to the death for territory and food. But take an Argentine ant from a colony in
Japan, or Spain, or from your kitchen, put ‘em together and… Nothing happens. They recognize each other by smell. Just like
these nest mates. Worldwide, Argentine ants act like a huge,
international super colony. Countless nests, each home to hundreds of
queens, producing millions of highly disposable workers. Massive Argentine ant super-colonies are spreading
all over the globe, overwhelming local ant populations. They can take down much bigger ants. Like
this harvester. The tiny Argentines throw themselves at their
enemy. Exhaust her. Then slowly pull her apart. They seemed unstoppable. But there’s more to this story. The Argentine ant has an Achilles heel. At Jasper Ridge, near Stanford University,
Nicole Heller has been tracking ant populations since the late 1990s. She wanted to know, how long would it take
for Argentines to completely overwhelm the native species here? One year? Five? But it didn’t happen. To her surprise, one native species was actually
thriving behind enemy lines. The winter ant. Winter ants aren’t much bigger than Argentine
ants. They aren’t much stronger. But they have a secret weapon. Put Argentine and winter ants together near
something they both want, like this cotton ball soaked in honey. See how the winter ant aims its abdomen at
the Argentine? And that little white dot appears right at the tip? And how the Argentine scurries away? No one had ever seen this before. In fact,
as far as we know, this is the first time anyone’s caught it on camera. No one knows yet what exactly it is, but this secretion can repel, even kill, those Argentine workers. At Jasper Ridge, this little drop has been enough to halt an implacable invader’s march toward world domination. Hi, it’s Amy. See how these ants all tap
each other when they go by? Well when ants touch antenna, they’re not
just exchanging information…they ARE the information. They switch jobs based on how
many other ants they run into doing the same thing. Join our ant army. Subscribe. Tap that button and we’ll let
you know about our next episode. Thanks for watching!

Where Are the Ants Carrying All Those Leaves? | Deep Look

Where Are the Ants Carrying All Those Leaves? | Deep Look


We’re looking at some of the world’s earliest
and most competent farmers. These leafcutter ants make humans look like
newbies. We’ve been farming for 12,000 years. Ants have been doing it for 60 million. We developed plows and shovels. Ants use their own bodies. Their mandibles
are shears that cut through leaves with incredible efficiency. The ants drink the sap in the leaves for energy.
But they don’t eat them. Remember, they’re farming here. They’re using the leaves to grow something else. But first they have to haul the gigantic leaf
pieces away. This is no small matter. For a human, it would be like carrying more than
600 pounds between our teeth. Then, they clean the leaves. They crush them. Cut them into little pieces. Arrange them carefully in stacks. They even compost the leaves, with a little
of their own poop. They spread spores around, like seeds. Over time, a fungus grows. And that – this highly nutritious fungus
– that’s what the ants are after. They feed it to the colony’s offspring, millions of them. For humans, farming was the origin of our
civilization. And it’s the same for ants. They are fungus tycoons. Their colonies are
true underground cities with a bottomless need for resources. Having this reliable source of food has given
them the luxury to specialize. Leafcutter ants have the most complex division of labor
of any ants. There are tiny worker ants. And large worker ants. And enormous half-inch-long
soldiers that protect the colony. Like human farmers, their abundant food source
has made leafcutter ants very, very successful. And this is where two civilizations – ant
and human – collide. From Texas to South America, leafcutter ants
are huge agricultural pests. Working stealthily at night, they can strip an entire tree of
its best leaves in just hours. As their ant civilization grows, they build
up the soil in the tropical forest. But they also pose a threat to those around them. And in this way, we resemble them more than we might like to admit.

These Carnivorous Worms Catch Bugs by Mimicking the Night Sky  | Deep Look

These Carnivorous Worms Catch Bugs by Mimicking the Night Sky | Deep Look


Look up. What do you see? Orion? The Seven Sisters? The Milky Way? Look again. You’re not outside. And these aren’t stars…They’re alive. These are glow worms. The spectacular larvae of a rather un-spectacular
gnat, called Arachnocampa luminosa. Deep inside the Waitomo caves on New Zealand’s
North Island, these bioluminescent worms hang from the ceiling in hammocks of their own silk. Their huge colonies turn these dark recesses into a natural planetarium. You’ve heard of mimicry in nature? This
is more like astro-mimicry. Fireflies generate light the same way—with
chemicals—to find mates. But these worms use their light to hunt. See the delicate threads hanging around each
worm? The light is the bait. These threads are the
snares. The worm drops them, bit by bit like a string
of mardi gras beads. Together, they form glittering chandeliers. For moths, fluttering through the dark cave,
it’s dazzling. Moths aren’t drawn to light, like you might
think. Rather, they navigate by it. They use the
moon and stars like a compass, to fly in a straight line. But with imposter stars all around, they become
disoriented…and fly into the light. That’s when the worm springs its trap. Caught in the slimy threads, the moth quickly
becomes exhausted. And the worm reels in its catch. Even a daytime flyer, like this mayfly, can
get lost in the cave. It struggles to escape, but only coats itself
in more goo. Slime seeps into its breathing holes. And it’s still alive when the worm begins
to feed. Scientists have noticed that these glow worm
colonies brighten and dim on 24 hour cycles. In other words… they have a circadian rhythm. Which is… odd, for a worm that lives its
whole life half a mile deep in a cave. It’s never experienced day and night. What’s more…each colony in the cave follows
its own rhythm. They’re offset… almost like they’re taking turns feeding on the
moths. The result: the endless starry night inside
the Waitomo Caves… A bright, glittering mantle cloaking a much
darker purpose. Hi it’s Amy. If you like stuff that glows, go toward the
light… We have some other stories you might like
— like this one, about the incredible ways that squid make themselves invisible, or the
surreal nano-powered blue of the morpho butterfly. And subscribe! We’ll be waiting.

This Is Why Water Striders Make Terrible Lifeguards | Deep Look

This Is Why Water Striders Make Terrible Lifeguards | Deep Look


To us, water striders are almost magical. I mean, come on, they’re literally walking
on water. But come down to their level and it’s a
bit more… sinister. These delicate little bugs have figured out
how to master the elements – and to exploit those who can’t. So how do water striders float where others
sink? The answer is those crazy long legs. Water is pretty sticky stuff. It likes to hold onto itself. It sticks together especially well right at
the surface. If you’re small, it can actually hold you
up, as long as you don’t break through that surface tension. It seems like the water strider’s legs would
just sink right in. But they don’t. They make dimples on the surface. That’s because their legs are covered in
tiny hairs called micro-setae that repel water. The strider’s entire body is covered in
them. Those hairs trap a layer of air that keeps
the water from sticking to its body. The water strider simply can’t get wet. That’s how they can sit on top of the water
without breaking through. Plus they’re pretty light and they spread
out their weight with their front and back legs. They use their middle pair of legs to maneuver,
by pressing down and back against those dimples. Just like rowing a boat. They can even catch some air. Most of their fellow insects aren’t quite
as graceful. Like this caddisfly. Struggle as it may, it’s stuck.. half-drowned… Exactly what the water strider has been waiting
for. It probes for a weak spot And pierces through – spitting digestive enzymes
in that dissolve its victim from the inside. Then the striders take their time sucking
out the innards. Leaving the caddisfly a dried-out husk. The stream delivers an endless buffet of new
victims. Because for most, that razor-thin line between
water and air is a treacherous place. But water striders know: keep your feet dry and you’ll always have
the upper hand. Hey there, it’s Lauren. I know you see that subscribe button there. Here’s what it’ll get you – new Deep Look
episodes every two weeks. Keep up with all the weird, gross and wonderful
things we’re working on. Thanks and see you soon.

These Giant Leaf Insects Will Sway Your Heart | Deep Look

These Giant Leaf Insects Will Sway Your Heart | Deep Look


When is a leaf… …not a leaf? When it’s got a face and six pointy legs. It’s a giant Malaysian leaf insect. You are what you eat definitely applies here. They blend in with their food – which is also
their home – to hide from hungry predators. But how hard is it to be a leaf, really? You just stay still. Really still. But it takes more than that. The mimicry is masterful. Their bodies have intricate veins, just like
a plant does. And on the edges, brown spots, like a crinkly,
damaged leaf. This type of camouflage – where you copy
your natural surroundings – is known as protective resemblance. It’s all they have, since their short antennae
and small eyes don’t really help them spot predators. They cling there, with tiny bifurcated toes. Moving is the biggest mistake this insect
could make. Even when it’s time to lay eggs, it barely
moves a muscle. The eggs just plop down to the forest floor. They’re camouflaged, too. They look like teeny brown seeds… …or leaf insect poop. That’s an egg … and that’s poop. The active young nymphs start out brown, and
transform gradually – taking on a little more green over time. This one’s halfway to a fresh leaf. Its color is set, though. It can’t change it on the fly. But this nymph still has a big migration to
make – getting into a tree – undetected. So, it sways. Yep, like a leaf in the breeze. That funky little walk is all leaf – a dance
of disguise. When it finally ascends, it’ll settle in
seamlessly like this adult. Between nymph and adult, it molts, or sheds
its exoskeleton seven times. Its appearance ages just like a leaf – its
brown spots getting bigger. It may never move from the same tree, living
its whole life as a cunningly concealed copy-cat. Hey there, it’s Lauren. We’ve got more tricky critters for you. Like decorator crabs, who wear stinging anemones. And squid that change the way light bounces
off their skin. Also – we’re close to funding a filming
expedition to Oaxaca, Mexico, to see mezcal worms and other critters. Join us on Patreon today to get us there. We’ve got a limited-time special offer to
sweeten the deal. Link is in the description. Thanks!