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Characters / Empires of the Undergrowth

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The main characters of the game.
  • After-Combat Recovery: All ant units can recover really slowly when not fighting enemies.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Ants have designated color on various parts of their bodies to show which colony they belong to. In story mode missions, your colony is red by default.
    • Brood tiles also have different colors corresponding to their units in one colony.
  • Zerg Rush: Because upgraded ants don't gain much stats, it's more benefitial to focus on quantity over quality early on for more damage over time and more labors. Upgrading is recommended when you have a surplus of food late game or you want to unlock level 3 abilities.

Gene Thief Ants (Formica ereptor)

Gene thief ants are the protagonists of story mode and many side missions. They can absorb traits of other ant species to adapt to different challenges. You can bring your customized gene thief colony from story mode to freeplay mode.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The opposing gene thief colony in formicarium challenge 3 is playable in side mission The Other Foot. You have to constantly supply workers for the main colony's formicarium challenge, while surviving even greater challenges that the scientist throws at you.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Gene thief ants can absorb the traits of other ant species to adapt to different challenges. They are completely fictitious and exist only to let you use different ant species in the same colony. There is no species in the Formica genus that has the level of physical variation seen here.
  • Character Customization: In story mode, you can use royal jelly to unlock additional abilities for your units and improve their stats. The customization is preserved when you bring your formicarium colony to freeplay mode.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: Gene thief ants start with only workers. You have to use royal jelly to unlock other species as your units. You can only pick one type of wood ants, leafcutter ants and fire ants per colony, and the choice is permanent. You can also unlock two additional abilities for each unit, including your queen, which let your colony keep up with the formicarium challenges.
  • Leitmotif: A piano piece plays whenever you are in the formicarium. The combat music for the area is simply an alteration of that piano piece.
  • The Protagonist: They are the protagonists of story mode.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: They are omnivores, but seeds are often seen as their primary food source. The male scientist feeds them with large number of seeds as reward after you complete a mission.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: The opposing gene thief colony in formicarium challenge 3 is your counterpart with slavemaker ants, trapjaw ants and army ants in their colony. Their queen also has additional abilities like your queen can. It's assumed that your colony is the prototype as the opposing colony has just arrived for the formicarium challenge 3 and you have to win to proceed through the story mode.

Black Ants (Formica fusca)

Black ants are playable in mission 1.X. They are the most basic ant species in the game.
  • The Generic Guy: They have no ability and offer no unique playstyle, as they are meant to get you used to the basic gameplay.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: They have average stats compared to other ant species. Level 3 black ants only gain more speed, letting them swarm over enemies faster.

Wood Ants (Formica rufa)

Wood ants are playable in mission 2.X. They are famous for shooting acid from their abdomen as defense.
  • Butt Cannon: Wood ants can shoot formic acid from their abdomen, dealing venom-type damage.
  • Glass Cannon: The shooters have low health and speed, but they can do really high damage.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: At the beginning of a mission, you are allowed to choose between mortar shooters or rapid-fire shooters. Level 3 mortar shooters can do splash damage while level 3 rapid-fire shooters can slow enemies down.
  • Shown Their Work: You start mission 2.1 with 3 black ant workers and a dead black ant queen next to your queen. In real life, a young wood ant queen will infiltrate a black ant nest, kill the queen and trick the black ant workers to work for her until the first few wood ants are ready to work.

Leafcutter Ants (Atta cephalotes)

Leafcutter ants are playable in mission 3.X. They are famous for growing fungus from harvested leaves.
  • The Big Guy: Leafcutter majors are the largest among ant units, even bigger than other species' queen. They are preferably used to take hits from the enemies while the smaller units do the actual fighting beneath them. Their sheer size prevents them from being devoured by spiders and mantises.
  • Equippable Ally: Level 3 medias and majors can get two minims to board them, helping them to fend off the annoying phorid flies while they are busy carrying leaves.
  • Foil: To the wood ants.
    • Wood ants are carnivores while leafcutter ants are fungivores.
    • Wood ant special unit is a glass cannon while leafcutter ant special unit is a tank.
    • Wood ant missions let you play defensively in your nest while leafcutter ant missions force you to play offensively against opposing colonies.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: At the beginning of a mission, you are allowed to choose between taunt majors or stun majors. Level 3 taunt major gain extra defense at low health while level 3 stun major can slow enemies down.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Their only food source is the fungus they cultivated from harvested leaves. In freeplay mode, choosing leafcutter ants will allow harvestable plants to appear on the map.

Fire Ants (Solenopsis invicta)

Fire ants are set to be the fourth playable ant species in the game. They are famous for using their own bodies to build rafts and bridges. They are planned to have the ability to spawn two ants from one tile at level 3.
  • Beware My Stinger Tail: Both fire ant workers and soldiers have stinger on their abdomen. They sting after every two bites, dealing venom-type damage.
  • Foil: To the leafcutter ants.
    • Leafcutter ants and fire ants hold records for the largest and smallest queen in the game respectively. Leafcutter minims and fire ant workers are also the smallest ant units in the game.
    • Both are aggressive. Leafcutter antss areterritorial while the fire ants are predatory.
    • Leafcutter ant special units are big and expensive soldiers that can take a lot of hits from enemies. Fire ants special units are small and cheap soldiers that can quickly swarm over enemies.
    • Leafcutter ants have muscular jaws for cutting up leaves while fire ants have venomous stingers.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: At the beginning of a mission, you are allowed to choose between pervasive soldiers or vigorous soldiers. Pervasive soldiers can hatch for free if they have been pupae for a certain amount of time. Vigorous soldiers gain a boost in stats for a certain amount of time after hatching.

Slavemaker Ants (Formica sanguinea)

Slavemaker ants are enemies in mission 1.2. They are famous for stealing larvae from other colonies to raise as their own.
  • Bandit Mook: Slavemaker ants steal larvae from other colonies. The stealers will sneak pass your defense line while the tanky soldiers act as distraction.
  • Foil: To the gene thief ants. Both have other ant species in their colonies. However, slavemaker ants steal larvae from other colonies while gene thief ants outright transform into other species.

Trapjaw Ants (Odontomachus baurii)

Trapjaw ants are enemies in missions 3.1. They are famous for their immense bite force.
  • Foil: To the leafcutter ants. Both have incredibly powerful bite forces. However, the leafcutter ants use their jaws to carve up plants while the trapjaw ants use their jaws to kill preys.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: These ants can use their jaws as catapults to eject themselves out of danger and heal themselves in the process. This is not always effective, since they can jump straight into enemies' ranged attacks or get themselves surrounded by enemies' reinforcement.

Army Ants (Eciton Burcheii)

Army ants are enemies in mission 3.2. They are famous for devastating anything on their hunting trail.
  • Foil:To the leafcutter ants. Both have huge majors with powerful jaws protecting their harvesting trail. However, the leafcutter ants are fungus farmers while the army ants are nomadic hunters.
  • Power Glows: Majors release orange pheromone cloud when their ability is activated. The pheromone cloud was later change to red glow for better performance.
  • Status Buff: Majors can increase the damage of their allies after fighting for a certain amount of time.
  • The Cavalry: In mission 3.2, scouts will occasionally appear on empty lanes. After spotting your ants, they quickly run back to their swarm calling for reinforcement. Killing the scouts can prevent the reinforcement from arriving.

Bullet Ants

Bullet ants are known for their incredibly powerful stings. They would be unlocked as part of the kickstarter goal, winning over vampire ants.

    Other Creatures 
The various creatures you need to fight to survive.


Woodworms are your primary food source in mission 1.1.

Devil's Coach Horse Beetles (Ocypus solens)

Devil's coach horse beetles are common underground enemies in mission 1.X and 2.X.


Woodlice are your primary food source in mission 1.X.
  • Harmless Enemy: They are incapable of doing any damage.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Woodlice have high health and heavy armor. At low health, they can hunker down onto the ground to gain extra defense.

Funnelweb Spiders (Segestria florentina)

Funnelweb spiders are enemies in mission 1.2.
  • Chest Monster: Their nests are filled with delicious insect remains. Any small creatures stepping on the webs will be slowed down and then captured by the fast spiders.
  • Fragile Speedster: Funnelweb spiders have low health and high speed.

Mole Crickets (Gryllotalpa gryllotalpa)

Mole crickets are new enemies in mission 1.X challenge mode.
  • Dungeon Bypass: These crickets invade your brood chambers from above. There is no way to prevent this from happening.

Beach Tiger Beetles (Cicindella dorsalis)

The adult tiger beetles are diurnal enemies in mission 2.1 while their young are new enemies in mission 2.X challenge mode.
  • Antlion Monster: Tiger beetle larvae burry themselves underground. Unlike antlion, they have to leave their burrows to attack, exposing their soft bodies. Therefore, they don't surface near large groups of ants.
  • Lightning Bruiser: The adults have high health, speed and attack, making them quite a challenge to take down for a young colony.
  • Standard Status Effects: The adults can stun multiple enemies at once using their wide carving jaws.

Hermit Crabs

Hermit crabs are nocturnal enemies in misson 2.X.
  • Bonus Boss: In side mission Babysitting, an Uber hermit crab can be found hidden under a log in the bottom left corner of the map. Killing it is not required to beat the mission. It was left there as a joke during the developing stream.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Hermit crabs have high health and heavy armor. At low health, they can retreat into their shells to gain extra defense and heal themselves in the process.

Beach Wolf Spiders (Arctosa littoralis)

Wolf spiders are nocturnal enemies in misson 2.X.

Root Aphids

Root aphids are your primary food source in mission 2.2.
  • Helpful Mook: They constanly secrete honeydew, making them a reliable food source for your colony.


Ladybugs are enemies in mission 2.2.
  • Bandit Mook: Ladybugs will occasionally swoop down to eat your aphids. They will fly away at low health.

Rove Beetles (Phanolinus auratus and Plochionocerus fulgens)

Rove beetles are common underground enemies in missions 3.X.
  • Seldom-Seen Species: You don't find much information about these species online.
  • Standard Status Effects: The adults can release a foul-smelling gas that either or poisons the enemies (green variant) or scares the enemies away (blue variant).
  • Underground Monkey: They are South American cousins of the European devil's coach horse beetles, with either more damaging attack (green variant) or more disrupting status effect (blue variant).


Harvestmen are enemies in mission 3.X.

Jumping Spiders (Psecas viridipurpureus)

Jumping spiders are enemies in mission 3.X.
  • Cowardly Mooks: They avoid groups of insects and tend to attack lone ones. They run away when surrounded.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Any jumping spiders entering your nest can run pass your defense to a random brood chamber.
  • Fragile Speedster: They have low health and high speed.

Spiny Devil Bush Crickets (Panacanthus varius)

Spiny devil bush crickets are nocturnal enemies in mission 3.X
  • Standard Status Effects: The adults attack by thrashing their spiny bodies around, causing all nearby enemies to bleed, damaging them over time.
  • The Spiny: They are covered with sharp spines that can damage any enemies making direct contact with them.

Leaf Mimic Praying Mantises

Leaf mimic praying mantises are diurnal enemies in mission 3.X
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Adult mantises can devour small creatures to replenish their health in battle.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The adults have high health and attack. They can constantly eat ants to heal themselves in battle, making them a big challenge to take down, even for a well developed colony. A few adults can dispatch an entire army ant trail just by themselves in mission 3.2.
  • Stealthy Mook: They cannot be seen on the minimap. Their health bar can only be shown in battle.

Whip Spiders (Heterophrynus batesii )

Whip spiders are nocturnal enemies in mission 3.2.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: They have huge pedipalps covered with large and sharp spines, which help impaling and immobilizing any prey within their range.
  • Bonus Boss: A huge whip spiders can be found in mission 3.2, hidden under a piece of wood. It will emerge after some time has passed, depending on difficulty. It guards the biggest plant on the map.
  • Final Boss: A huge whip spider is the final opponent for the side mission Aggrandise.
  • Mighty Glacier: Whip spiders currently have the highest health and attack in the game, with heavy armor to boost. However, they have low speed and need to constantly reposition themselves in battle to make use of their long pedipalps.
  • Standard Status Effects: The adults have various attacking patterns to deal with different situations. When approached by too many enemies, they swipe their pedipalps outwardly, knocking enemies back and stunning them. When surrounded, they violently thrash their spiny bodies around, causing all nearby enemies to bleed, damaging them over time.

Phorid Flies

Phorid flies are new enemies for mission 3.X challenge mode.
  • Airborne Mook: Phorid flies swarm above harvestable plants, far from leafcutter ants' reach. They swoop down quickly to lay eggs inside ants' heads.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Although infected ants don't lose health and can still follow order, they receive multiple debuffs, which drastically hinder their harvesting ability, and die after a certain amount of time.

Velvet Worms

Velvet worms are centipede-like creatures that can shoot sticky liquid to defend themselves. They were meant to be enemies for the 3rd set of missions. However, due to their complex movement and the overhaul of movement code, they are put on the back burner. The developers have confirmed to keep them in the game.

Bombardier Beetles

Bombadier beetles can shoot a stream of scalding liquid powerful enough to knock enemies away. They are confirmed to be enemies for the 4th set of missions.

Velvet Ants

Velvet ants are socially parasitic wasps that cannot fly. They lay eggs inside other wasps or bees' nest, letting the hosts raise their young. They are confirmed to be enemies for the 4th set of missions.

Venus Flytrap

They are confirmed to be enemies for the 4th set of missions.

Formosan Termites

Formossan termites are known for building massive overground nest. They would be unlocked as part of the kickstarter goal, winning over European wasps.

    The Humans 

The Scientists

Two scientists observe a colony of Formica ereptor in their lab.
  • Confess to a Lesser Crime: Following the second formicarium challenge, the male scientist told his colleague that the gene thief ants successfully repelled forty wood ants, much to her alarm, as she only wanted at most thirty to be sent against the colony. By this point, your colony should have fought three tiger beetles, ten wolf spiders, and well over one hundred ants from three different colonies.
  • The Faceless: Only the male scientist's hands are visible in the game.
  • Jerkass Gods: The scientists might as well be gods compared to the ants, and the male one tends to go out of his way to make the ereptor colony's life more difficult purely for his own amusement. He even refers to his finger crushing the ants as 'the hand of god'.
  • Mad Scientist: The male one is a downplayed example even though the developers have literally called him "Evil Scientist". He's more interested in amusing himself by having the gene thief ants fight other creatures in increasingly more elaborate battles rather than giving them reasonable challenges. He's also the one responsible for providing the gene thief ants with royal jelly, something the female scientist doesn't approve of. Other than that, he doesn't really act like a typical mad scientist. T
  • Narrator: They narate for the gene thief colony. Their opening dialogue following a completed mission will reflect whatever resource you chose to receive extra amounts of for completing the mission. They have unique dialogue following the completion of the formicarium challenges.
  • One-Hit Kill: In formicarium challenge 3, the male scientist uses his own finger to crush your ants if you try to fight in the open.

The Narrator

He was planned to be the scientist who studies the migration of gene thief ants in the wild. Currently, he is only the narrator for the missions of story mode and freeplay mode.
  • Narrator: He informs you about the progress of your colony and the new creatures first appearing in a mission. He has some unique lines for events exclusive to freeplay mode.
  • The Voice: He's never seen in person.

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