Sir David Attenborough’s The Mating Game reminded viewers everywhere just how brutal things can be out there in the wild on Sunday night.
The first episode focused on creatures who live and breed on the planet’s grasslands and captured kangaroos fighting for their mate’s affections, as well as nursery web spiders and zebras willing to put their life on the line to impress prospective partners.
While some of the mating rituals were awe-inspiring and even a little romantic at times, one section of the programme left viewers feeling a little uncomfortable.
The scenes focused on the inner workings of a termite colony on the grasslands of Africa.
As host Sir David explained, the termite is one of the most successful species on the planet.
The colony’s queen lives for 50 years, which is longer than any other insect, and oversees hordes of soldiers doing her bidding.
Her devoted partner mates with her frequently and stays with her for life, helping to produce more than a quarter of a billion offspring.
With huge ovaries stretching many times the length of a normal termite, the queen lays an egg every three seconds, every day for 25 years – ‘a productivity unmatched in the natural world’.
As the show explained, the fate of the newborn insects produced by the insects is decided by chemical signals emitted by the queen.
As the rainy season approaches she orders the workers to prepare new openings in their nest. As the rain pours down, for a few days in a year, some of the queen’s subjects develop wings.
One morning at first light they emerge in their millions with the aim of spreading and starting their own community.
The programme showed the inner workings of the colony, and some viewers were left feeling unsettled at what they saw.
‘This queen termite on #TheMatingGame is the grossest thing I’ve seen in some time,’ wrote one.
‘Not sleeping for a week, now,’ added another.
Echoing a similar sentiment, a third penned: ‘I’m going to have nightmares about termite Queens!’
The series, which was filmed during the pandemic, also featured the ruff bird, who adopt an ingenious cross-dressing strategy to deceive rivals.
The show also focused on a young male ostrich in the Namibian grasslands who took his first step into the mating game.
The BBC shot 3837 hours of animal foreplay for The Mating Game.
The five-part series, narrated by Sir David, takes a look at the animal world’s pursuit for a partner in order to pass on their genes to the next generation.
The Mating Game continues at 8pm on Sunday on BBC One. Episode one is available to stream on BBC iPlayer.
Credit: Original article published here.