My uncle told me about a story when I was a kid, between 1989 and 1995. It is either a written story or a short film. There might be obvious mistakes in my description, but I am hoping someone can recognize this one:
A scientist is experimenting on an ant colony (or another kind of bug colony). He finds a mysterious element that he thinks is a byproduct of the existence or activities of the ants. However, he is unable to ascribe this element to anything sensible. In the end he discovers that the element is a byproduct of his interaction and experiments on the ant colony. The story ends with him finding (perhaps by accident) the same element naturally present in the Earth's atmosphere. Astonished, he realizes that there must be another higher being experimenting on humankind the same way he did with the ants.