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Elyse DeFranco

Don't Go Chasing Water Bugs
KQED Deep Look

Giant water bugs — aka "toe-biters" — pack one of the most painful bites of any insect. But they make the best dads ever. Rather than leaving the survival of his eggs to chance, dad will haul them around piggyback style for weeks, until they hatch right off his back.

I received a 2022 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award for my work on this video. 

Teddy Bear Bees Stab Flowers To Steal Their Nectar - KQED Deep Look

With their short tongues, Valley carpenter bees can't easily drink the nectar from tubular flowers. So they use powerful mandibles to slice into the blooms and steal it. It's called nectar robbing, since the plants don't get the benefit of being pollinated by these enormous, fuzzy bees.

How Hoverflies Spawn Maggots that Sweeten Your Oranges  - KQED Deep Look

Oblique streaktail hoverflies zip from bloom to bloom wearing a wasp costume to avoid getting eaten. But it’s all for show – they don’t even have stingers! Their fierce maggots, on the other hand, devour hundreds of insect pests. As they gorge, they help keep orange trees safe from disease.


A short explainer video on the phenomenon of upwelling, an environmental process that gives coastal California our moderate temperatures and which helps biodiversity thrive. I made this video while learning video production skills during the UCSC Science Communication M.Sc. program. 

Silkworms Spin Cocoons That Spell Their Own Doom - KQED Deep Look

Those precious silk garments in your closet were made by the caterpillar of a fuzzy white moth – thousands of them. Silkworms spin a cocoon with a single strand of silk up to ten city blocks long. Humans have bred these insects into weaving machines that can no longer survive in the wild.

Backswimmer Insects Drag Prey Into the Upside Down  - KQED Deep Look

They look like little rowboats, cruising belly up below the surface of a pond or gentle stream. But don't be fooled. Backswimmers are voracious predators, and when it's time to find a new home they know how to make a dramatic exit.

Native Animal Rescue

A video showcasing the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation work of Native Animal Rescue in Santa Cruz, California. I made this video while learning video production skills during the UCSC Science Communication M.Sc. program. 

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