Empire of the Ants: Insect Fear Film Festival

A man in a boat in swamp fights off a giant ant with an oar
A man gazes out at a row of giant ants walking on a pier above the ocean.

Based on the short story by H.G Wells, Empire of the Ants is a gem of 1970’s sci-fi horror. The film centers on a corrupt Florida real estate developer and her captain, set on luring investors to a property in the Everglades called Dreamland Shores, under false pretenses that the swampland will soon be developed. However, when the group arrives on the small island, they discover it has been overrun by giant mutated ants, brought to life by the dumping of toxic waste in the area and bent on human destruction.
This event is sponsored by A.D. White Professor-At-Large Program and will feature an introduction and conversation with A.D.-White Professor-At-Large May Berenbaum PhD ‘80 and Anurag Agrawal, James A. Perkins Professor of Environmental Studies in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology.
Free admission; complimentary concessions will be provided for all attendees.
May Berenbaum PhD ‘80 has been on the faculty of the Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign since 1980, serving as head since 1992 and as Swanlund Chair of Entomology since 1996. Her work is focused on characterizing biochemical, genetic, and molecular mechanisms underlying interactions between insects and the plants they consume, including detoxification of natural and synthetic chemicals, and for applying ecological principles in developing sustainable management practices for natural and agricultural communities. Her research, supported primarily by NSF and USDA, has produced over 300 refereed scientific publications and 40 book chapters. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, she has chaired two National Research Council committees, the Committee on the Future of Pesticides in U.S. Agriculture (2000) and the Committee on the Status of Pollinators in North America (2007).

Devoted to teaching and fostering scientific literacy through formal and informal education, Berenbaum has authored numerous magazine articles and six books about insects for the general public; on the UIUC campus, she founded outreach efforts including the Insect Fear Film Festival, the citizen-science web portal Beespotter, and the UIUC Pollinatarium. She graduated summa cum laude, with a B.S. degree and honors in biology, from Yale University in 1975 and received a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University in 1980.

The Insect Fear Film Festival has been scaring the general public with horrific films and horrific filmmaking since 1984. Presented by the Entomology Graduate Students Association (EGSA) and the UIUC Department of Entomology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the annual festival is an opportunity to see movies focused on insects, interact with the insects in our petting zoo, and dispel some fears of these incredible, fascinating creatures.