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Intimate Relations

   2005    Nature
The world of invertebrates exists in a web of relationships with plants and other animals. Unique footage of the world's smallest insect (a fairy wasp only quarter of a millimetre long) shows it flying underwater to find the eggs of water beetles in which to lay its own brood. Some ants 'farm' the trees that give them shelter, creating areas known as 'Devil's gardens'. To make sure these grow without competition, they kill off other seedlings in the surrounding vegetation. The blister beetle's larvae huddle together on the end of a piece of grass and mimic a female bee. When a male bee tries to mate with the 'female', the larvae grab on to his belly. Confused, he flies away and searches for a real female. When he eventually finds her and mates with her, the beetle larvae hurriedly swap from his front on to her back, and hence get carried back to her nest where they eat her pollen supplies.
Series: Life in the Undergrowth

Taking To The Air

   2005    Nature
As the early June sun begins to set over a calm river in Central Hungary, masses of ghostly shapes emerge from their larval cases to take to the air for the first time. They are mayflies and in a spectacular display, thousands of them demonstrate how the very first wings were used. From the stunning aerobatics of hoverflies in an English garden to the mass migration of purple crow butterflies in the valleys of Taiwan, this episode tells the tale of the first animals ever to take to the air. Unique footage reveals the lightning fast reactions of bluebottles and hoverflies, filmed with one of the world's fastest cameras, and Sir David Attenborough handles the world's largest (and perhaps most ferocious) insect - the Titan beetle.
Series: Life in the Undergrowth

The Insatiable Appetite

   1998    Nature
The next instalment focuses on dietary needs and how different species have evolved beaks to suit their individual requirements. The latter come in a multitude of forms. Blue tits and goldfinches have beaks akin to tweezers, with which to extract seeds, while the hawfinch's razor-like bill can deal with a cherry-stone. However, the crossbill is the only finch that can twist its mandibles in opposite directions. Jays store acorns for winter by burying them in the ground, whereas woodpeckers can keep up to 60,000 of them in one tree trunk. Sap is also desirable, and there are a variety of methods used to obtain it. The hoatzin is the only specialised leaf-eater, and accordingly has a digestive system more akin to that of cattle. Plants recruit birds to aid pollination, and offer nectar as a reward. Hummingbirds eat little else, and the sword-bill's beak is the longest of any bird in relation to its body. Insects are also highly prized, and Galapagos finches are shown to possess some ingenuity as they not only strip bark, but also use 'tools' to reach their prey. Crows are hailed as being among the most intelligent birds, and one is shown using a twig to spear a grub within a fallen log. The robin is an opportunist, and Sir Attenborough observes one seizing morsels as he digs a patch of earth. In South America, a cattle tyrant sits atop an obliging capybara and uses its vantage point to spot passing food that may be dislodged by its grazing partner.
Series: The Life of Birds

Supersocieties

   2005    Nature
Invertebrates don't always operate alone. True society was the last feature to evolve in invertebrates, as recently as the time of Tyrannosaurus. In the last programme see the tensions below the surface in some of the great social structures built by insects, and witness the carnage when an ant colony and a termite colony wage war.
Series: Life in the Undergrowth

Dragons of the Dry

   2008    Nature
About 340 million years ago a brand new family of animals was evolving in the primeval swamps. They were to go one step further than the amphibians who had emerged onto dry and before them. For they would eventually completely cut their ties with water. They were the ancestors of todays lizards. They evolved scaly impermeable skins and moved up into the forests. They diversified into a multitude of different shapes and sizes. They developed signalling systems to communicate with one another. And they squabbled as animals do. For food they hunted insects that were already well established on the land in great numbers. And here without returning to water they produced their families. They powered their bodies not only with food but with the heat that they drew directly from the sun.
As they diversified so they spread into the harshest of the lands habitats. The baking waterless deserts which eventually they would come to dominate. Discover jacky lizards that wave, wrestling beaded lizards and the the world's smallest chameleon, which is no bigger than his thumbnail, and the biggest lizard in Australia.
Series: Life In Cold Blood
Magic Numbers
Magic Numbers

   2018    Science
Building Giants
Building Giants

   2019    Technology
The Crusades
The Crusades

   2012    History
Roman Empire: Reign of Blood
Roman Empire: Reign of Blood

   2016    History
Wild South America
Wild South America

   2005    Nature
Frozen Planet
Frozen Planet

   2011    Nature
In Search of
In Search of

   2018    Technology