The opening titles to the movie World War Z contains an interesting scene where the audience witnesses ants swarming. The scene, which foreshadows what will happen later in the film, is so brief that it wouldn’t surprise me if folks missed it. Later in the film, the swarming happens again, but this time the creatures are zombies.
For today’s Monday Mayhem series post I would like to talk about zombie swarming—how it takes place, who is susceptible, and why. It’s all about theory today, folks. If you like to talk about the Horde Effect—I just made that up—then you’ll want to keep reading.
Ants are one of the most interesting insects in nature. They come together, disperse, forage, warn and even lead, all by a chemical built within their small bodies. The chemical they possess goes by the name pheromones. Simply stated, ants produce pheromones to assist their complex colonies in multiple ways.
For instance, when an enemy approaches their colony, ants spray pheromones to warn other ants of impending doom. They also spray their pheromones when they want to ward off ants from other colonies, in effect, protecting their territory. They do likewise if they come across something of interest. This is how they lead other ants to food sources. Have you ever seen how ants seem to follow each other in a straight line to and from a picnic table? That’s how they do it. They spray pheromones from the location of their catch all the way back home so that other ants can follow their trail. It’s quite interesting to see this process at work.
Now, as for zombies, they aren’t much different from insects. Similar to swarming ants, the “modern-day” undead have a way of communicating in order to get things done. I’m talking about their shrieks.
In the old days, zombies lumbered and dragged and lurched. They were slow. They were feeble. Today’s zombies, however, sprint, jump and ram. Hard to deny the power the undead possess when they’re in full attack mode. Their shrieks lead other zombies to potential kills, and the other zombies do the same. On and on it goes. I call it the Horde Effect, but you can call it anything you’d like. The point being, like ants, zombies lead each other to a food supply without knowing they’re doing it out of instinct.
I’m sure there are other similarities between insects and zombies. This post only concentrated on zombie swarming. Perhaps one day I’ll also look at the zombie dormant state and its similarity to bat behavior. Until then, ants can provide a great lesson for humanity, not only in organized social structure, but also in zombie swarming. It’s time to appreciate nature more than for providing us food and resources.
Have you seen ants lead other ants to food? Do you think zombies function the same way?