Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Stuffed to bursting point by a ruthless queen - Empire of the Desert Ants, Natural World, BBC2

Please click here to comment
Wednesday 10th August, 8pm, BBC Two

Tonight Natural World delves into the seething antistrocracy of the Arizona desert, where a new honey ant queen wages an intense battle for survival as she attempts to build and defend her empire. Eliminating rivals with ruthless efficiency, sacrificing thousands in her quest for domination, murder, cannibalism, genocide - she will do anything to keep her crown. Empire of the Ants is the epic story of one honey ant queen's dramatic rise to power - her brutal fall from grace.

Honey ant queens share a throne 

Footage of ant queens working together has been captured by a BBC film crew. As the sole reproducer in a colony, ant queens are traditionally considered lone figures. However, in certain species unrelated queens will sometimes co-operate to kick-start a new colony. Read the full article on BBC news 

Stuffed to Bursting Point

The largest honey ant workers take on a very special role in the colony - repletes. They are force-fed load after load of nectar by forager ants until their abdomens become the size of peas. As they get bigger, they haul themsleves up onto the roof of the nest to avoid being damaged. Once hanging from the roof, the repletes refine the nectar into thick honey. During long winters and droughts, repletes regurgitate their contents to feed other colony inhabitants - a strategy to enable these ants to survive in the desert. 

Series Editor: Steve Greenwood
Narrator: Andy Serkis
Producer: Ian Gray
Executive Producer: Tim Martin
Comimg up in this series of The Natural World
Heligan: Secrets of the Lost Gardens, Wednesday 17 August
Shot by Charlie Hamilton James this beautiful film uncovers the secret lives of the many wildlife residents the visitors rarely see.

Komodo: Secrets of the Dragon,
Wednesday 24 August
Using hi-tech tools to take a fresh look at this prehistoric beast, Doctor Bryan Fry discovers there is a lot more to the dragon than meets the eye – from hidden venom glands to its secret origins, thousands of miles away from its Indonesian home.

The Woman Who Swims with Killer Whales, Wednesday 31 August
The Killer Whale is the most feared predator in the ocean and most would consider it madness to enter the water with them. But New Zealander Dr Ingrid Visser things differently – and by swimming with her beloved whales she’s come to know almost all of them by sight.

Animal House, Wednesday 6 September
Sir David Attenborough tells the stories of the world’s best animal architects.

Dates may change


  1. David Winder16/08/2011, 18:15

    I have just watch Empire of the Desert Ants and I was blown away. I am a HUGE David Attenborough fan and have all of his DVD's and books.
    But even though he was not narrating this one, the guy who did, was superb.
    The footage was... well... what can you say. Its BBC Natural History, no need to say anything else. To get so close and in such quality even down to hearing the ants footsteps is mind-blowing.

    This was just stunning and if the rest are up to this standard, I see awards on the horizon (no pun intended) :)

  2. Andrew Aveling22/08/2011, 15:41

    Is it possible to conclude that once the Corral Army had sensed defeat, in regards to both the lack of rain and the resolve of the Larger Trough army, that the Corral army deliberately provoked the invasion of their own nest for quick destruction? For why would a weaker army lead a stronger army the 40 meters back to their own nest and back to their own queen? Retreat, I don't believe is the answer for we have seen ants fight to the death at the place of battle. Ants may not have such notions of strategy but they must instinctively know that the protection of their queen is paramount.
    Could it be, in the fundamental being of ants, which we glean from their behavior towards hierarchical structures, that they see no purpose in the slow death of a now inadequate colony -even if it is their own, but better perhaps to sacrifice themselves, including their hive, for the overall continued existence of their race and by doing so replicate their life-long sacrifice, which has always been evident in the unquestioning actions of Ants to their superiors since birth?

    On the other hand this could be just a question of biology and the Corral ant army's cent had lead the Trough army to the nest, but if so this was not explained.

    Any ideas?

    My thoughts on the Empire of the Desert Ants, is that this is every great film or play from the classics to sci-fi, rolled into one immense story and along with the soundtrack would be worthy of a cinema release.

  3. Dear all,

    Peace be up on all,

    Hats off to the skill and efforts of those all involved in producing the documentary Empire of Desert ants.

    May God bless them for all such knowledge to bring to surface.

    Only thing to realize that all these is intelligence of creator of heaven and earth.

    It is God which gives the implanted knowledge to each creation as to how and what they will do when they are alive.

    Thanks to them who bring the painstaking knowledge to surface.

    When God in Quran talks of ANTS and gives the parables - those disbelievers were saying what do GOD means to give such meager parables of ANTS.

    Quran spoke about Universe - Big Bang and Ants and every thing in fine details even creation of human being and stages.

    ANTS part was still not so much so powerful system unless we have such wonderful people supported by BBC.

    GOD bless all of you.

    Director of Ultralinks International Limited