Before we look for specific examples in the famous short story "Leiningen Versus the Ants" by Carl Stephenson, we need to define our terms. Imagery in literature is the use of descriptive language that appeals to the senses to add to the reader's appreciation of a story. This includes not only the visual sense, but also sound, smell, taste, and touch. The main conflict of this short story is the battle of Leiningen and his workers to save Leiningen's plantation in the remote Brazilian rainforest from a relentless horde of millions of ravenous ants.
The author uses imagery in "Leiningen Versus the Ants" to highlight the remoteness of the location, the danger that the defenders of the plantation face, and the intelligence and relentlessness of the ants. Some of the imagery is used specifically to evoke a sensation of terror. Let's look at some examples. One of the first vivid images we receive, before the ants even arrive, is a horde of terrified animals fleeing the onslaught of the ants.
It was announced by a stampede of animals, timid and savage, hurtling past each other; jaguars and pumas flashing by nimble stags of the pampas, bulky tapirs, no longer hunters, themselves hunted, outpacing fleet kinkajous, maddened herds of cattle, heads lowered, nostrils snorting, rushing through tribes of loping monkeys, chattering in a dementia of terror; then followed the creeping and springing denizens of bush and steppe, big and little rodents, snakes, and lizards.
This image is mainly visual, and we see in it the abject terror that all the other animals in the jungle feel towards the ants. Even predators flee from them. Besides the visual image, we get a hint of the noise they make as the monkeys are "chattering in a dementia of terror."
Stephenson then gives a description of the defenses that Leiningen has devised, which enables readers to visualize the layout of the plantation in relation to the ant's attack. When the ants arrive, they are like a relentless horde from hell. This image is also amazingly vivid:
It was a sight one could never forget. Over the range of hills, as far as eye could see, crept a darkening hem, ever longer and broader, until the shadow spread across the slope from east to west, then downwards, downwards, uncannily swift, and all the green herbage of that wide vista was being mown as by a giant sickle, leaving only the vast moving shadow, extending, deepening, and moving rapidly nearer.
Another image illustrates the horrifying death that awaits Leiningen and his workers if the ants manage to break through their defenses. Stephenson describes what happens when the ants attack a pampas stag, a type of deer or antelope.
Down the slope of the distant hill there came toward him a singular being, writhing rather than running, an animal-like blackened statue with shapeless head and four quivering feet that knuckled under almost ceaselessly. When the creature reached the far bank of the ditch and collapsed opposite Leiningen, he recognized it as a pampas stag, covered over and over with ants. It had strayed near the zone of the army. As usual, they had attacked its eyes first. Blinded, it had reeled in the madness of hideous torment straight into the ranks of its persecutors, and now the beast swayed to and fro in its death agony.
Other vivid examples of imagery in the story include the ants swarming and drowning as they try to cross the water-filled ditch, their attack on the worker with the spade, the burning of the petrol-filled ditch, and the attack of the ants on Leiningen when he makes a desperate run toward the dam.