Our Productions

Bug Attack

  • 2003
  • 50 mins
  • National Geographic

Deadly swarms, a spider the size of a dinner plate and a hornet that can kill with just one sting. Bug Attack presenter, Phil DeVries, goes in search of the world’s most awesome insects in a journey that takes him from Japan to the swamps of South America. What makes a locust become the most destructive bug on the planet? Would you be stung by a scorpion? From the biggest to the grossest bugs on the planet, Bug Attack enters the world of insects as never before. For DeVries there is no sewer too dark, no swamp too dangerous and no sting too painful if it brings him face to face with another incredible bug!

Winner of the MacArthur Genius Prize for his work on butterflies, DeVries’ great passion for bugs transports you into extraordinary television moments as he gets stung by a scorpion, changes a locust into swarm mode and handles the largest spider on Earth.

First we meet the world’s worst stingers. Phil travels to the South Western Biological Institute in Tuscon, Arizona to first be bitten by a scorpion and then a harvester ant. Twenty minutes after the ant sting he’s experiencing searing, tearing pain in his arm, and then there’s the bite of the Black Widow. But even Phil is not foolish enough to try this!

Then we travel to Venezuela in search of the biggest bugs on Earth. Soon he is rewarded as he catches a giant centipede, half the length of his arm, its venomous fangs snapping. With the help of the local Piaroa Indians, Phil hunts for the biggest spider in the world – the Giant Tarantula. Reaching the size of a dinner plate, with inch long fangs and an armoury of projectile missiles, capturing it is no pushover.

Next it is the stuff of nightmares as we search for the grossest bugs on the planet. In New York we go underground to investigate reports of lots of roaches in a disused tunnel. Wearing infra-red goggles we get an extraordinary view of the roaches’ world. Then it is onto the swamps of Venezuela, home to the world’s largest leech. It approaches Phil underwater before it inserts its three inch proboscis into his leg and feeds on his blood. If that isn’t gross enough, meet the human bot fly whose maggots live and feed in flesh.

Then we witness the birth of a locust swarm that can destroy the livelihood of a tenth of the world’s human population. Next high on a mountain top in Arizona, Phil meets a huge colony of Africanised or ‘killer’ bees and discovers just what makes this bee so terrifyingly different.

Finally we travel to Japan for Phil’s most intimidating mission yet, to meet the most impressive bug of all, one whose sting can dissolve flesh and is five times larger than the honey bee. With a hospital on alert and a doctor standing by, Phil is attacked by some eighty Japanese Giant Hornets. Luckily for him, most of the workers are miles away hunting.They have found a hive of bees and it is a massacre. In just three hours, thirty hornets can kill thirty thousand bees.



"It’s not every TV show that can fascinate, horrify and disgust you several times over. This hugely entertaining hour will leave you wanting more” - LA Times
"Well done indeed, I really enjoyed the program" - Simon Andreae, Science Editor, Channel Four
“Nervous viewers may want to keep a cushion handy!” - Daily Mirror PIck of the Day
“There are many reasons to be thankful for living in Britain: freedom of speech, democracy, great cuisine…. After watching this documentary, though, the advantage likely to be uppermost in your mind is its lack of dangerous or disgusting insects. In the nasty bug stakes, we just don’t cut it internationally. Thank God. Phil deVries makes Mark O’Shea look like a big girl’s blouse.” - Sunday Telegraph Pick of the Day
“Gripping stuff, huge fun and had the heart fluttering!” - Patrick Morris, Series Producer, BBC Natural History Unit


  • Presenter:
    Phil DeVries
  • Photography:
    Paul Williams, Tony Allen and Keith Brust
  • Music:
    Daniel Pemberton
  • Editor:
    Rashid Davari
  • Director:
    Nick Stringer
  • Producer:
    Sarah Cunliffe