Cinema has proven obsessed with humanity being deposed by the proliferation and subsequent aggression of some previously innocuous creature. Hitchcock fed us to The Birds. Others pitched us against apes, killer bees, and flying piranha (thankfully not all at once). The pleasure in these popcorn fantasies is in knowing they’re unlikely ever to happen. In fact, we’re more attune these days to animals in need of our help rather than quashing any attempted mutinies. It’s this complacency that could prove our downfall. When we travel, we worry about crocodiles, or bears, or crippling stomach bacteria. But have you ever worried about cantankerous turkeys, invasive ants, or any other of the creatures on our list?
What? Turkeys. Yes, those pendulous-necked sandwich mainstays. They’re tired of being on the menu. What started as 9 pet turkeys in the town of Ocean Breeze soon saw the town overrun. If you see them coming, cross the street. The birds frequently attack cars and children.
How can we fight back? The usual solution in the USA is to shoot the problem however, turkey hunting is illegal in Staten Island.
Chances of deposing humanity? Slim. They usually flee from a thorough shooing.
What? Caterpillars might make you squeamish, but rarely because you suspect them of world domination. Meet the African Armyworm, named for its unsettling tendency to ‘march’ in dense numbers. These armies have devastated crops and poisoned water supplies across Africa. So severe was the damage in Liberia, the government declared a state of emergency.
How can we fight back? The adult moth lays 1000 eggs in its lifetime and can migrate hundreds of miles. It’s a difficult battle.
Chances of deposing humanity? Targeting food supply is a clever tactic, and they’ve already invaded North America...
What? Monkeys prove a nuisance all over the world. It’s our fault; urbanisation encroaches on their territory, forcing them to adapt to life alongside humans. The baboons of Cape Town, South Africa, are taking this a step further, copying our drinking habits by eating the fermented grapes in the region’s vineyards. They’re mean drunks, too; remember how desperate you are for a kebab after a night out? The baboons break into cars and houses to satisfy the munchies.
How can we fight back? The local authorities cull the worst offenders in the hope of thinning out the real troublemakers. It hasn’t worked.
Chances of deposing humanity? Let’s just hope they feel their morning headache and swear they’ll never drink again.
What? The Nomura jellyfish is terrifying. 7 foot in diameter, weighing in at 600lbs, and wielding thousands of stinging tentacles; we’d fancy it in a fight over Jaws. An outbreak has earned the deceptively poetic name of a ‘bloom,’ and a bloom of Nomura fills the ocean for miles. Increasingly, they’re occurring all over the globe, and with newfound frequency. In the Sea of Japan, a small fishing boat capsized trying to raise its nets from a bloom.
How can we fight back? The Japanese have responded in their own inimitable fashion; market the Nomura as novelty cuisine.
Chances of deposing humanity? It’s thought that global warming is turning more of the ocean into suitable habitat. One Nomura carries millions of eggs. Let’s just give them the sea and be done with it.
What? Ants? Pah! Just boil a kettle and they’re done for, right? Not the Yellow Crazy Ant. Aside from boasting a name like a prison wing kingpin, the Crazy Ant has an aggressive foreign policy. Sometime between 1915 and 1934 some stowaway ants arrived on Christmas Island, Australia. They formed several super colonies which spread by 10 feet every day. The Crazy Ant now lays claim to over 30% of the island’s rainforest.
How can we fight back? We’re going to need a bigger kettle.
Chances of deposing humanity? The ants don’t allow anything else to live on their territory. That includes humans...
What? We’ve already mentioned The Birds. Don’t worry; these 10,000 strong flocks of migrating blackbirds that descend on the town of La Grange, Kentucky, aren’t directly hostile. That doesn’t mean they don’t fight dirty. During winter, the birds drop so much faeces that the residents have to carry umbrellas. It strips paint from cars and causes mass illness.
How can we fight back? The local authorities fire noise cannons into trees to scare the blackbirds away. It doesn’t work.
Chances of deposing humanity? That really depends how much mess you can put up with.
What? Big Cat sightings in England’s capital date right back to the 1800s. The most prominent was the ‘Surrey Puma,’ frequently spotted in the 1950s and 60s. The late 90s saw the apparent arrival of a panther in south-east London. One man claims to have been attacked by it in his back garden.
How can we fight back? Any definitive evidence has yet to emerge. Either the cats are the product of overactive imaginations, or they’re so sneaky we’ve got no chance of finding them.
Chances of deposing humanity? Many US cities put up with big cats on a daily basis and survive. It’s just a little startling in a country where the largest natural foe is a sheep.
Staten Island wild turkeys
Cape Town Baboon
Giant Nomura jellyfish
Yellow crazy ant
"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey" - Fitzhugh Mullan