DOCUMENTARIES


USA - Fire Ants: The Invincible Army (HD) - 45' min (4 April 2013)

Are you ready for the ant invasion?

 
 
 


For more than 80 years, the Solenopsis Invicta ant species has been on a ceaseless march across the United States, racking up six billion dollars every year in crop damage, equipment repair, and pest control. They have conquered more than 530 000 square miles in 13 U.S. states and killed at least 80 people. Emboldened, they continue their global invasion. Now, scientists are cracking the ants' ancient secrets to success, enlisting crime scene forensics to track it, and breeding winged assassins to hunt them down.

Since they first hitched a ride from their native South America to Alabama in the 1930s, the fire ants empire has spread to at least 11 countries as far-flung as the Caribbean, New Zealand and Taiwan. Part of their global success is their astounding ability to organise into fabric-like rafts that can float on water for months. Like us, they are also are highly social, organised and communicate amongst each other. What can we learn from them and how can we stop the expansion of these destructive creatures?

To solve these questions, world's foremost fire ant experts have been probing, freezing and floating fire ants in their labs. Dr. David Hu studies the simple rules that govern their cooperative behaviour. He hopes to apply this knowledge to advance the development of small robots "that follow simple rules and can link up with other robots to perform complex cooperative behaviours".

Dr Sanford Porter has taken up the task of containing the fire ants' population. He hopes that with the help of the fire ant's natural enemy, the tiny but lethal phorid fly, we will be able to "tilt the natural balance in favour of the native ants here." Using stunning 3D macro photography, this documentary reveals the previously unexpected secrets of the ants.

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Michael Watchulonis

 
Making the film
Making Lesbian
Michael Watchulonis: We had done a little bit of macro filming before but nothing as ambitious as this. Initially we did a lot of tests with different lenses. It took several weeks for our Director of Photography to experiment with different lenses, set ups, inter axial distances and focus. Using the lenses that we were using, if we were more than two millimetres off, the shot was unusable. Of course, fire ants donít really do what you tell them to do; they are always moving so to get those shots without all that testing would have been impossible.

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