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Life In The Undergrowth

David Attenborough pushes back the foliage and finds a world of invertebrates.

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David Attenborough reveals the amazing stories behind the tiny lives of invertebrates, exploring their incredible miniature world with ground-breaking camerawork and technology.

The series was originally broadcast on BBC One in November 2005; it is regularly repeated on Eden and Yesterday.

Episode guides and clips

Supersocieties

It is easy to be dismissive of invertebrates because they often pass us by unnoticed due to their small size. Yet some invertebrates have overcome the limitation of their small size by banding together in hugenumbers. Many of these societies are so finely tuned in the way they operate that it is as if they were a single being - or, in the words of David Attenborough, a 'super-organism'.

By working together these tiny creatures can achieve great things. African termite mounds act as huge ventilation systems and are so sophisticated in their structure that humans are only just unravelling how they work. Yet insect societies are not all shining examples of cooperative utopias. As a bumblebee colony reaches its maximum size towards the end of summer, conflict spreads among the female workers and eventually they turn on their mother - the queen - and sting her to death. The programme also reveals what happens when two insect societies meet head-on, as matabele ants raid a nearby termite mound. The ensuing battle lasts just 15 minutes and ends with a most horrific scene of carnage.

Episodes in this series

Episode Description
Invasion Of The Land Creatures leave the sea to colonise the land Read more
Taking To The Air Out the water - now they take to the skies Read more
The Silk Spinners The power of the web-slingers Read more
Intimate Relations Cole Porter wasn't wrong when he said bees do it. Read more
Supersocieties The bugs that work together... Read more