Episode 6: Not Your Average Picnic Ant

Dominic Monaghan reflects on his journey tracking army ants through the rainforests of Ecuador.

BBCAmerica.com: What challenges did you face on the search for army ants?
Dominic Monaghan: Just getting to the location to film the army ants was arduous. The ants are also nomadic, so finding them again once we had located them was never guaranteed.

What was the most exciting thing and/or the biggest surprise during your trip to Ecuador?
The variety of life in the rainforest was astounding. Everywhere you stood there were animals.

Did you make any new bug discoveries?
I got a chance to see the net casting spider in Ecuador. Very interesting animal indeed.

 

‘Wild’ Director of Photography, Frank Vilaca, reflects on his journey to Ecuador.

BBC America: What challenges did you face on the hurt for army ants?
The main challenge in Ecuador was capturing the scale of the army ant colonies. Army ants are such tiny creatures, and it was tricky placing them in the rainforest environment so that Dom could relate to them in a way that was exciting for audience. I had the preconception that shooting ants in the rainforest was going to be very hot and damp, and we’d be on the ground doing macro photography in the rain. It didn’t rain as much as I thought it would, but keeping up with Dominic in the rainforest in Ecuador was always a challenge. When Dom would veer off a trail and into the thick of it, the cameras would get caught on jungle undergrowth, and I would get hit by something prickly or bitten by some swarms of flying insects. There were ants everywhere – on your clothes, your arms, and in your pants. The working conditions were miserable and VERY damp. 20 minutes into the day you are drenched in sweat right through to the skin. I had to be always hydrating to avoid heat exhaustion. I would drink about 6 liters of water a day.

BBC America: Any memorable moments from your trip?
My favorite moment in Ecuador was travelling up the Tipitni River. The area was so remote. It was cool travelling in a long narrow wooden boat, going deeper and deeper into the rainforest. Having the most deadly spider in the world chase you on the rainforest floor was an eye-opener. Dom warned me it could lunge at the camera or me, and it did. I was faster.