The Gathering of Swarms (2014)
By Dan Clendenin
Birds, bees, bats and butterflys all do it. So do dozens of other animals all over the world. At 53 minutes, this PBS Nature documentary about swarming behavior makes for a fantastic family movie night. In swarming behavior, "a million minds act as one" and exhibit fascinating collective decision making about every aspect of life — food, shelter, predators, migration, and mating. As you would expect from a PBS production, both the photography and narration in this film are spectacular. There are emperor penguins in Antarctica, schools of sardines off the coast of South Africa, a million parakeets in the Australian outback, and the famous cicadas that emerge all together after 17 years in the soil. My two favorites were the single swarm of 40 billion locusts that covers 400 square miles and travels 150 miles a day, and 20 million army ants in Tanzania that look for a new home. I watched this film on Netflix Streaming; it's also available on the PBS website.