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The rival world.

Haanstra, Bert

About this work


With high production values and a dramatic narrative that insects are man's worst enemy, we discover what science has to offer in the battle against the insect kingdom. Firstly, insects considerably outnumber man and are constant irritants as well as man's main rival for food (amply illustrated by footage from around the world). Close up real time and timelapse cinematography shows insects multiplying. Some insects are beneficial; the silk worm weaves its coccoon (silk looms are in production);insects are great pollinators (bees are shown at work). Vast libraries of insect specimans are seen. Numerous insects are deadly to man; a tsetse fly carries sleeping sickness and a sick man lays stricken whilst another becomes blind; elephantiasis; malaria carrying anopheles mosquitoes. The World Health Organisation collates information about deaths by insects - whole areas of Africa are under siege as the war against the mosquito is underway. Game animals are shown to be healthy whereas cattle contract ngana. Other insects destroy housing or crops. The film indicates that a third of all crops are destroyed by insects and the greening of the desert by irrigation has led to the spread of malaria with trade and commerce resulting in the spread of insects. Young locusts, hoppers, are seen in action - local people beat them with little effect. In the desert, locust control is by laying poisoned bait as a first lince defence, however, when they become airborne fledglings, the war is taken to the air where the locusts are sprayed with insecticide. In Kenya, ladybirds were introduced to eat the mealy bugs on the coffee crop but their action is slow. The careful study of insects has led to improved ways to battle against the insect invasion and quicker acting insecticides.



Physical description

1 encoded moving image (24:24 mins.) : sound, colour



Copyright note

Shell Film Unit.


This film forms part of a group of films donated to the Wellcome Trust in 2006 by The British Medical Association.

Terms of use


Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-NoDerivs 2.0 UK: England & Wales

Creator/production credits

A Shell Film Unit Production. Directed by Bert Haanstra, produced by Stuart Legg. Photographed by Sidney Beadle with Ronald Whitehouse and Han Van Gelder, Assistant Directors Douglas Gordon and Alan Pendry. Music compsed and conducted by James Stevens, Electronic Sound by Pierre Henri.


  • English


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