When animals swarm they create a super-organism of incredible power. They can attack our food supplies, immobilize our transport systems, undermine our cities and even attack our energy supplies. They can stop us in our tracks.
Experience the force of superswarms when Discovery Channel presents the two-hour BBC special SUPERSWARMS, premiering Sunday, April 28 at 8 p.m. ET/9 p.m. PT. >From simple organisms such as swarming mayflies – whose numbers can close entire roads – to the uncontrollable force of the locust swarm, this is a world of secret communication where individual creatures unite as one in a mesmerizing display, but with sometimes devastating consequences…
SUPERSWARMS starts with state-of-the-art techniques and real life footage from camcorders and cell phones to venture into the world’s greatest animal swarms to capture what happens when these alien armies collide with human life. See how people are affected – how they are overwhelmed, how they fight back or how they simply make the most of the experience. Killer bees mount an attack on an international football match in Costa Rica. In the U.S., the Illinois River virtually boils with leaping silver carp, an alien species that has hijacked the river, smashing into boats and injuring people. In South Australia, a sea of millions of mice raid farms, consuming and pillaging on an unbelievably devastating scale. The largest swarm on Earth erupts from Tanzania’s Lake Victoria: trillions of flies blanket villages, but the locals have learned to turn this swarm into a highly nutritious fly-burger. In Rome, cameras fly alongside ten million starlings, the largest swarm in Europe. Their mesmerizing waves stop many residents in their tracks, but as the birds roost they smother the city in excrement. One man has learned to control the ultimate swarm by becoming their “queen bee” and learning to control one of the most incredible forces in nature.
After highlighting these stunning swarm phenomena, SUPERSWARMS delves deeper to reveal the collective intelligence behind these invasions, a remarkable form of mass animal thought that their success – and often their very survival – is dependent upon. Fire ants from the Brazilian rainforest have recently invaded the U.S. southern states, regularly shutting down communication and traffic control systems with their destructive attraction to computers and electronics. The special examines the seemingly telepathic swirling of bird flocks – phenomena that rely on reaction times 13 times faster than our own. Remarkably, the flock acts like a flying brain that processes information about feeding grounds and makes plans for the following day. Millions of free-tailed bats form a living tornado in which complex information is exchanged. Huge shape-shifting shoals of herring use swarm intelligence to detect predators. Billions of alkali flies form a rolling wave to evade the gaping mouths of gulls. And one swarm is even helping to save the planet from the “greenhouse effect.” Incredible images show the true complexity of the swarm and how their intelligence impacts our world.