Attenborough and the Empire of the Ants

15 July, 2017

I have recently finished filming for a programme with David Attenborough on ants in the foothills of the Swiss Alps titled Attenborough and the Empire of the Ants. The story is of two physically identical species of ant that live in the same area but have two very different strategies to survive the harsh environment.

When I first visited them in the Spring of last year the ants were just starting to leave the nest after their winter slumber and were surrounded by snow. In fact it started snowing while we were filming and using a very powerful macro lens you could see the giant snowflakes come crashing down hitting the ants. However these ants thrive in this climate, their many adaptations to the fickle weather at the top of the mountains are remarkable and have allowed the development of two very different ways of survival: war and peace.

I went back to Switzerland for five more trips to visit the ants at different times of the year and to see the dramatic landscape change. The cows and their bells were always to be heard in the distance.

Getting up close and personal proved very difficult when your subjects have a head the size of a pinhead, so specialist macro lenses and relay systems were used to magnify while keeping a useable depth of field.

The programme will be on BBC2 around Christmas time.