Attack of the Clones: Deep Look at the Lives of Aphids

UC Cooperative Extension specialist and agricultural entomologist Ian Grettenberger of the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology faculty, assisted with the award-winning KQED Deep Look video, Born Pregnant: Aphids Invade with an Onslaught of Clones.

Grettenberger provided his expertise and some aphids, working with digital video producer Josh Cassidy, senior video producer for KQED Science and the lead producer and cinematographer for Deep Looka short-form nature series that illuminates fascinating stories in the natural world.

Cassidy’s aphid video scored an international Jackson Wild Media Award, winning first place in the category, “Animal Behavior, Short Form video (17 minutes or less).”

In selecting it as the best film in its category, the judges said it “most effectively explores animal behavior in an innovative and illuminating way.”

Aphids can reproduce at a remarkable rate. They mostly birth live young who are clones of their mothers, with no sexual reproduction involved. Females are born already pregnant with the next generation of aphids. Luckily for gardeners, natural predators such as ladybugs, lacewings and parasitoid wasps can help keep aphids in check.

The aphid video came about when Cassidy approached Grettenberger looking for researchers working on aphids.

“I told him I wasn’t working in the lab with aphids, but he could come check out my garden, which happened to be chock full of them,” Grettenberger said. Much of the film was shot around Grettenberger’s home and garden.

Media Resources

Grettenberger runs a YouTube channel on Pests and Natural Enemies. One of his most popular videos is his post on Lady Beetle Larvae and a Baby Aphid–Scoop, Scoop, Chomp Chomp.

Deep Look’s Award-Winning Aphid Video by Josh Cassidy–and a UC Davis Entomologist’s Role (UCANR Bug Squad blog)

Kathy Keatley Garvey is a writer with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology. 

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