The Life Of Insects
Episode 9: The Great Horde
Narrated by David Atterboy
It’s one of Nature’s greatest migrations.
No-one knows for sure what drives these ants.
Is it drought conditions in their natural habitat?
An increase in predators? Mass hysteria?
Here they are, marching across the desert.
First hundreds, then thousands, now millions.
Many fall by the wayside, their fellows
clambering over the bodies where they lie.
Reaching the sea shore they throw themselves
on any branch, twig, leaf – indeed any
piece of flotsam that comes to hand – and
cast off into the waves, grossly overcrowded.
These fragile craft all too often capsize,
countless ants are drowned, but there are still
vast numbers of them that reach the other side
and haul themselves up the beach.
Once again they swarm off, overcoming
every obstacle and danger they encounter.
Heat, wind, rain. Mountains, forests, rivers.
Scavenging birds, beasts and humans.
Are they heading for a particular destination?
Research supports the theory that they share
a mindset to join a United Kingdom of ants
far to the north across yet another sea.
They gather on the coast here in the jungle
milling about in their thousands, prevented
from crossing that final waterway by humans
intent on preventing them spreading further.
Innumerable crumbling anthills have sprung up
housing these frustrated insects, an eyesore
for local humans who (perhaps understandably)
consider the invasion amounts to a plague.
This is the final act in the drama, where the ants
meet their Armageddon. The jungle in flames as
bulldozers level the anthills, pest control officers
advancing spraying poison gas as they come.
The surviving ants scatter, no longer with
any idea of what to do or where to go. Sadly,
only entomologists show interest in their fate,
every one else is glad to see the back of them.