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If you have a cat, you have probably witnessed  them chasing down the insects and spiders and   other crawly creatures that live in your  home. Our master of microscopes, James,   has two cats.

And so he is the beneficiary  of their combined hunting prowess.  So James decided to turn that  bounty over to the microscope,   and to see how these familiar creatures  look when we see them up close,   and also to see what autofluorescence they  reveal when we use our fluorescent light.  Now, this is a bit different than our usual path  into more microbial realms, where little droplets   of water reveal new worlds and new creatures.  Instead this time, we’re looking at creatures   who are quite visible and even familiar. But it’s always fun to see familiar sights   in unfamiliar ways, and to see what  else there might be there to learn.  For example, let’s talk about the silverfish.  Now, if you don’t recognize that name, maybe   the silverfish sounds like an elegant creature  you’d find swimming in a fantastical river.  But in reality they are those tiny, wingless  insects that you find scurrying around in   humid spots like your bathroom. And our  homes are full of their favorite foods,   whether that’s the glue binding a book together,  wallpaper, or dry food in our pantries.  And unfortunately we don’t have footage of the  next thing we’re about to tell you, but it’s the   kind of thing that when you learn it, you have  to share it..

The silverfish you are looking at   right now might be remarkably still, but that  stillness... conceals the heart of a dancer.  When it comes time for reproduction, male and  female silverfish have a whole routine that they   work through. They begin by facing each other  and tapping their antenna against each other,   before backing away. And then they repeat  this, coming closer and then coming apart   until the male silverfish runs away.

Then the  female tracks him down, and when she does,   they lay head-to-tail—vibrating with reproductive  intent. The male will deposit a sperm capsule   on the ground, the female will  pick it up. And from there a new   generation of crawling silverfish will be born.

Unfortunately, we do not have a fun story like   that to tell about this spider for the very simple  reason that we don’t know what kind of spider it   is. All we know about it is what you can see: it  is tiny and green with little bits of white hair.   And its eyes! If you hate spiders, maybe  those eyes are scary, but we think they’re   actually really lovely and a little endearing.

We also know that this was quite the lucky   spider because it was not killed by James’ cats,  which is why you can see it moving around…unlike   this unfortunate spider, which met its end before  we put it under the microscope, but it seems to be   twitching a bit when we turn the UV light on. Now we didn’t put our mystery green friend   under the UV light in case that  might’ve fried it to death.  Instead James decided to release it, so hopefully  it is now off living a wonderful life somewhere.   But we would love to know  what kind of spider it is,   so if any of you know anything that can help us  identify it, please let us know in the comments!  Now, this, however, is part of a very  familiar insect. These are the little   fuzzy hairs on a housefly’s butt.

And here, up close, are its wings,   with hints of iridescence popping against the  dark background. That color is not the result   of pigments. It’s a structure inside the wing  itself that bounce light back in a way that   produces the multifaceted, filmy color we see.

And when we turn the fluorescent light on, that   iridescence goes away, but the patterns of veins  running through the wings becomes more apparent.  If we travel further down, we get to one  of the fly’s feet, which has some strange   autofluorescence at the side. Now, we’re  not entomologists, but our guess is that   the autofluorescence is connected to structures  in the feet that help the fly taste their food.  That’s right. Flies taste with their feet.

As  they’re flying around and landing on potential   food, they use the taste receptors on their  feet to get a sense of whether their landing   spot is actually edible. Unfortunately, of course  those edible landing spots happen to be my food,   or yours, but mostly I’m concerned about mine. Now, flies however are a much less threatening   household pest compared to this one: the scorpion.

Now just to reassure you: there was no cat versus   scorpion showdown to bring you this image.  This scorpion was a souvenir, preserved and   bought in Thailand, and then brought to James’  home by the previous tenants of that home.  And when we turn on the UV light, almost  the entire scorpion seems to turn blue.   It’s a handy trick for finding scorpions  in the dark: just shine a black light,   and you’ll find them glowing around you. But it’s not clear exactly what chemical causes   this neon shine, just that whatever chemical  it is, it’s located in an outer layer of the   scorpion’s exoskeleton. That is why scorpions that  have molted and are still growing out their new,   tough exoskeleton will not fluoresce.

Now, why does the scorpion do this?   We don’t really know, but one possibility is that  it turns the scorpion into a giant UV sensor,   able to detect UV light even when it's nighttime  so that it can find darker places to hide in.  And from one stinger to another, let’s  end with every picnic’s favorite insect:   the bee. Only the familiar yellow and black colors   have been rendered into a more  orange and teal combination here.  This image of its eyes seems even more abstract,  but maybe that’s fitting because bee eyes…well,   they see things differently than we do.  They can’t see red, but they can see in   the ultraviolet spectrum. And so just as the way  that we look through the microscope changes the   world that we see, an animal’s eyes change the  world it sees.

There are flowers with distinctive   patterns painted in ultraviolet, a world that  will always remain abstract and invisible to   us. It’s a world layered on our own, imagined with  a vocabulary that can never fully do it justice.   But not all visions are meant to be seen  by us. Sometimes it’s enough to just know   that they exist, and to bring what little  parts of them we can into our own world.  Thank you for coming on this journey with us as  we explore the unseen world that surrounds us.  We’d also like to again thank  Skillshare for supporting this video.

Now that you’ve been up close and  personal with some insects and arachnids,   and have this new knowledge of all of  the details that make up their bodies,   Skillshare is here to help you  put that knowledge to good use! With courses like Insect Illustrations  and Animations in Procreate,   you can create beautiful images of your  favorite insects, and artist Liz Kohler Brown   will walk you through the process.  You’ll play around with colors and   layouts that work for your personal style  in order to create an insect illustration,   and then you’ll go a step further to learn  how to actually animate that illustration. Skillshare is an online learning community  that offers membership with meaning.   With so much to explore, real world projects  to create, and the support of fellow-creatives,   Skillshare empowers you to accomplish real  growth.

It’s curated specifically for learning,   meaning there are no ads to distract you, and  they’re always launching new premium classes,   so you can stay focused and follow  wherever your creativity takes you. And if you’re one of the first 1,000 people  to click on the link in the description,   you can get a 1 month free trial  of Skillshare’s Premium Membership. Now, you might be asking yourself.

How  does a channel like this exist on YouTube?   Where there’s like chill narration and chill music   and chill visuals. It’s not like big and flashy  like a lot of what goes on on this platform. Well, the reason that we can do this is  because there are people who really like it   and some of those people, when they can, they help  us out at

And these   are those people. The people who make it possible  for us to do this, and we are so grateful to them. If you want to see more from our  Master of Microscopes James Weiss,   you can check out Jam and Germs on Instagram,   and if you want to see more from us, there’s  always a subscribe button somewhere nearby.