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Bug War

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"We must meet the challenge with our valor, our blood, indeed with our very lives to ensure that human civilization, not insect dominates this galaxy now and always!"
Sky Marshal Dienes, Starship Troopers

Any war fought between humans and an insectoid race, or any other clearly inhuman enemies. Generally, the battle is at some point in The Future.

Bugs make great enemies for a fictional war for precisely the same reason that Evil Overlords give their minions face-concealing helmets: The reader or viewer is more likely to empathize with an enemy who has readable facial expressions. Making the enemy an insect or something similarly alien makes them impossible to read, which removes almost all empathy. Specifically insect-like monsters have the added benefit of triggering some fairly common phobias. Thus, the enemies can be demonized and painted as remorseless monsters with no sense of individuality, thereby assuaging the protagonist's (and hopefully the reader's) guilt over killing them.

Often, the bugs are a stand-in for whatever real-world enemy was current at the time of writing.

Can be a quite compelling scenario, as there seems to be something primal about a determined band of humans having to stand against a living ocean of chitinous, drooling, gribbly horrors, screeching and hissing as they advance in a nightmarish tide of fangs and claws. Expect the enemy to have an incredible numerical advantage that can be used in a Zerg Rush, making victory for the humans not a matter of defeating the aliens, but merely surviving. A Heroic Sacrifice or two usually comes into play if it means one of the good guys can take a load of beasties with him...and nuking the site from orbit may be the only real option. If worse comes to worst, it may be Better to Die than Be Killed, lest you end up with a Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong.

The Trope Codifier is Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers, which also helped solidify the image of decked-out Space Marines fighting the Bugs.

Compare Robot War, a closely related trope dealing with wars between humans and sentient machines. See also: Big Creepy-Crawlies, Starfish Aliens and Hive Caste System (which tends to be used by nearly all Bee People with another concept of role specialization which may make them a Keystone Army). Usually a Horde of Alien Locusts. Sometimes it's an insectoid Xenomorph Xerox. Commonly uses Guilt-Free Extermination War. May involve a Creature-Hunter Organization. Unrelated to Ant War, wars fought between actual insects. For a smaller-scale version, see Pest Episode.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Blue Gender is set in the 2030s, in which Earth has been overrun by the Blue-alien insectoid creatures containing a newly evolved B-cell, that kill and harvest humans for food.
  • A major element of the overall series plot of the anime El-Hazard: The Magnificent World is an extended war between the human lands of El-Hazard and a race of giant insects called the Bugrom.
  • Mohiro Kitoh's oneshot Ekrano was set on a flooded future Earth, where the protagonists used vehicles called "Ekrano Bi-Dice" to battle alien sea monsters called Kujirani.
  • The Andromeda Flow Country from Getter Robo range from humanoid to just large versions of Earth insects, though no two of them look alike. Curiously, they seem to lack a Hive Mind. It turns out they are Well Intentioned Extremists.
  • In Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet the part of the human race that fled the earth to escape from a new ice age fights a desperate battle against the Hideauze, giant superpowered squid-like creatures. Turns out, the Hideauze are a mutated and space-living version of the whale squids still living on the Ocean Punk earth, who in turn are genetically modified and nanobot equipped humans.
  • The Space Monsters in Gunbuster are this taken to Kaiju proportions at least—at most, we're talking minor Eldritch Abomination type entities.
  • In Heroman, Joey and Heroman are Earth's only defense against the evil insectoid Skrugg aliens, unknowingly summoned to Earth by Joey's science teacher.
  • The Chimera Ant arc of Hunter × Hunter is a different version of a Bug War involving the eponymous insects, which mostly resemble insect-human-another-animal hybrids because of the Queen's method of reproduction (eating other species). The Ants acquire intelligence and individuality from humans, which conflicts with the Hive Caste System and Hive Mind of the species. As such, many Ants leave to become leaders themselves or side with the humans to defeat the King. Yet, a poisonous explosion is used to kill the King in the end.
  • The Vajra of Macross Frontier. However, in classic Macross fashion the solution to the conflict comes not in the humans destroying the Vajra but in understanding them. Oh, and in destroying the third party that was manipulating both sides.
  • Subverted in the anime Martian Successor Nadesico, in which the "Jovian lizards" turned out to be human space colonists. The government didn't need drugs, however, as the colonists were few in number and thus fought using remote drones.
  • Subverted in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Despite being gigantic, hideous bugs that crush anything in their path and spread spores of killer fungus that swallow up cities and spew poison gas, the Ohmu come off as being more sympathetic than half the human cast. The main character even tries to save a baby Ohmu.
  • One Piece: Usopp's training on Boin Archipelago involved a little of this. Namely, fighting his way out a horde of giant carnivorous beetles.
  • The Invid/Inbit in Robotech: The New Generation/Genesis Climber MOSPEADA with their hive structure, buggish mecha, and slug-like appearance (until they started making human ones that look like supermodels, anyway).
  • Subverted in Spider Riders. This trope is clearly how the humans see the Invectids, but the Invectids are actually individuals with hopes and dreams and families of their own, who believe they're fighting for a good cause. The Invectids unfortunately don't realize that their leader is an Omnicidal Maniac. Also subverted since the humans are, per the title, riding around on giant sapient spiders who are completely sympathetic.
  • Tekkaman Blade has the Radam, giant vaguely-instectoid aliens, as the main antagonists. Their life-cycle is rather bizarre, as they turn into strange alien trees once on the surface.
  • TerraforMARS, a play on the word 'terraforming', involves a notably stupid idea in which the governments of Earth, seeking to deal with dwindling resources on Earth, decide to send roaches and some fungus to Mars as a way to terraform it. Safe to say, 200 years later when they finally send humans up there to see if it works, the welcoming committee wasn't too pleased. The welcoming committee in question were made of sapient, 7 feet tall, humanoid roaches with huge, oogly eyeballs and equipped with supernatural speed, strength and a noticeable lack of anything resembling mercy, if the way they massacre the astronauts are any indication. Especially interesting is the way they Bait-and-Switch protagonists. Not even the touching way they build up relationships in the first two chapters is any help considering they are all massacred. The second group is no better and the Love Interest died almost immediately with only two survivors. The third and most current generation so far seem to be faring, somewhat well. Read:Half of them are already killed off.

    Comic Books 

    Fan Works 
  • Played Straight In Aeon Entelechy Evangelion where a recently heavily damaged Harbinger-4 Eshmun hatches a small army of mini-versions of itself right on the battlefield. Subverted with the Migou, who like in Aeon Natum Engel, are simply better than humanity, and the only reason they don't curb stomp the Earth is because they are afraid to wake up something much worse.
  • The core conflict of Blueblood: Hero of Equestria is the Equestrian Royal Guard vs. the parasitic, Shapeshifting Insectoid Alien Changelings. The Prince's sword is in fact, specifically built to puncture chitin.

    Films — Animation 
  • Z from Antz survived a war with termites. While the ant characters, especially their faces, are highly anthropomorphic to the point of essentially being a Furry Lens, the termites are completely non-anthropomorphized. However, despite being portrayed as monstrous creatures during the war scene, they do seem capable of intelligence, as General Mandible and the Queen discuss earlier peace negotiations with the termite colony.
  • Wreck-It Ralph has the Fictional Video Game Hero's Duty, which has Space Marines fighting robot bugs called Cy-Bugs. The bugs here are mindless automata — unlike most video game characters in the setting, who know they're in a video game — and only exist to eat and multiply. They are usually stopped by a giant glowing tower that acts as a bug zapper, on which they are programmed to kill themselves so the game can reset properly.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • One of the best known examples is the titular creatures of the Alien films, although to call them "bugs" would be inaccurate given their... unique nature. The Aliens are freakishly inhuman, and are even mistakenly referred to as "bugs" in Aliens, which was widely inspired by Starship Troopers. Here, the facelessness of the Aliens also added to their scariness. In Aliens, Hudson even asks "Is this gonna be a standup fight, sir, or another bughunt?" before going on the ill-fated mission to LV-426. Also, the Marines have a logo on their landing craft that depicts an eagle with boots stomping on an insect, with the tag line "Bugstompers - We endanger species". The Aliens and their insectile design are so influential in this regard that several other works featuring a Bug War have a Xenomorph Xerox stand-in.
  • Played with in Battle: Los Angeles, where the aliens are very clearly inhuman and brutally ruthless, but retain enough humanlike characteristics (such as caring for wounded, taking cover, using intelligent tactics and hand signals, etc.) that the similarities between them and the Marines becomes disturbingly apparent. At one point, one of the Marines asks another if he thinks the aliens were like them: just grunts who really had no idea what was going on, but given orders and sent to fight.
  • District 9 - The violent insectoid aliens seem at first to be mindless beasts. As the film develops we get to see how their circumstances are working against them. Through the character of Christopher and his child we gain a sympathetic viewpoint. It is an interesting exercise to view the film with and without subtitles: it shows how characters lacking a mammalian face are working uphill.
  • The Godzilla series uses this trope fairly often, though Godzilla himself usually ends up being the bigger threat that goes up against the insects:
  • The original Bug War movie (and the other notable source for Aliens): the giant ants of Them! Probably the Trope Maker.
  • Star Wars have the Geonosians, an insectoid race that are part of the Confederacy of Independent Systems. They are first introduced in Attack of the Clones as the main manufacturers of Separatist Droid Army, whose B-1 Battle Droids are said to be based of the Geonosians themselves. The Geonosians are weak individually but can overwhelm any army with sheer numbers, and their culture encourages sacrifices for the colony and their queen. They also happen to be the very first species to fight the Clone Troopers from the newly christened Grand Army of the Republic.

  • Played straight in John Steakley's Armor, to the point where the war with the Ants is referred to as "a Bug War".
  • Arthur C. Clarke's short story The Awakening ends with the unnamed Master being revived from eons of suspended animation - only to realise...
    ...the long war between man and insect was ended - and man was not the victor.
  • From Osprey Adventures, Mark Latham's Bug Hunts has future humanity simultaneously in a war with 3 different insectoid alien races that are expies of those from Starship Troopers and Aliens plus the Tyranids. There are also some minor but still dangerous independent alien insectoids that are limited to a single planet or small number of systems and not expanding.
  • Robert Lynn Asprin's The Bug Wars hits all the standard points of this trope, with one major subversion: the bugs are being fought by a race of grim humanoid lizards, the action all taking place countless years before human civilization arises.
  • Threatened in Children of Time (2015), which sees a human Colony Ship fleeing a Homeworld Evacuation discovering that the only still-viable planet of all those terraformed by Old Humanity is already occupied by a species of Uplifted Animal Giant Spiders, which the humans are understandably horrified to discover. Ultimately defied, when the spiders infect the human ship with a brain-altering virus — the same one that gave them sentience — that forces the humans to empathize with the spiders and recognize them as fellow sapient organisms. Spider society has its issues, but genocide isn't one of them, and with the humans' instinctive arachnophobia removed they're perfectly happy to share the place with them.
  • Inverted in Chrysalis (RinoZ), where the insects are the protagonists, and would really rather live in peace with humanity, but the humans (or, at least, the Abyssal Legion) are intent on wiping them out. Further complicated by the fact that the Legion are actually heroes who keep humanity safe from the Dungeon's continual monster threats; they just unfortunately refuse to make an exception for the Colony.
  • The Codex Alera books by Jim Butcher have an encroaching bug enemy called the Vord.
  • In The Dresden Files, also by Jim Butcher, there are several somewhat-literal examples; Harry in major battles with ghouls, the Vampire War, a legion of fae spiders and Grey Men that appeared in the climactic battle of Turn Coat, and several other examples.
  • In Nick Perumov's Empire Above All duology, German Nation (a futuristic German Empire/Third Reich) and communist guerrillas wage war with mysterious insectoid Biomorphs. It is later revealed that Biomorphs are actually a result of human experiments and were used deliberately.
  • H. G. Wells' short story "Empire of the Ants" revolves around a literal war between human beings and intelligent (albeit normal-sized) ants spreading out from the Amazon, with the narrator predicting that the ants will win. A film adaptation exists but with the more Big Creepy-Crawlies-plot variation as the ants are giant ala Them! and can spew a mind-controlling gas.
  • Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game explores the trope.
    • The Buggers kill quite a few of us, but that was only because they considered them to be equivalent to fellow drones. When the Buggers realize that all humans are sapient (only Bugger queens are sapientand even then, not the physical queen but some "Philotic being" connected to her, the rest are mindless drones and workers whose lives aren't considered at all important) and that their own attempts at first contact were really murder on a massive scale they freak the hell out and completely withdraw. Since at this point Buggers and Humans still haven't figured out a way to communicate, the humans think that they're just pulling back to regroup, and launch a devastating counterattack that drives the species to extinction except for one egg.
    • The Formic Wars prequel novels describe the First Invasion in detail. The Formics (Card has stopped using "Buggers" past the original novel and Ret Conned the name "Formic" as always having existed) arrive in a giant Ramscoop-powered starship and land forces in China. Their "troops" mainly just spray a highly-toxic goo that melts anything organic that is then collected by Formic harvesters as biomass. Basically, they consider humans to be mere animals and are simply terraforming Earth to their liking. Sure, when humans fight back, then the Formics bring out the heavy guns. They're also spotted vivisecting dead or dying people and, apparently, looking through their organs for something. Another Retcon is the gravity-manipulation technology. The original novel explains that it was reverse-engineered from the Formics. The prequels have humans already manipulating gravity in some areas, while the Formic ship lacks any sort of Artificial Gravity.
  • Averted in Genome with the Czygu, whose females could, at first glance, pass for small human girls. Only by looking closer you will find that they're Bee People and that the "breasts" are actually pseudopodi. This can allow Czygu, with some minor plastic surgery, to infiltrate humanity. While there is no Bug War in the book, one is about to start, if the protagonist doesn't solve the murder mystery in time.
  • Inverted with the Panesthesians of Heuristic Algorithim And Rapid Response Engine. They look like giant cockroaches, but the hero has actually shown up to help them against the boilers. They also have individual personalities, and children.
  • The Insects in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series are human-sized upright-walking, well, insects who achieve a unique form of a Hive Mind via their natural Psychic Powers. While each Insect is sapient, the hive can mentally "de-evolve" any number of Insects to drone-like level when an army or a large workforce is required. This ability also influenced their science and technology. Due to the cheap workforce, they never had to develop cybernetic organisms and, thus, have no Humongous Mecha or androids. While there has only been one actual Bug War (on a Lost Colony between human and Insect descendants of the original colonists), several novels involve conflicts between humans and Insects with hints that one is inevitable. Unfortunately for humanity, the Insects far outnumber humans (and "de-evolved" drones don't value their lives), and several hives are attempting to learn how to use human cybernetics against them. Fortunately, humans far outclass the Insects in space and ground combat in the technological capacity.
    • Averted with the friendly Insects who are not only cooperating with humans but have petitioned to be accepted into the Confederacy of Suns. These are individuals who have not formed a Hive Mind due to millions of years of being slaves. While it is impossible for humans to read their "facial" expressions, the fact that they communicate telepathically allows humans to know what the Insects are feeling much better than body language would show.
  • Inverted in Alan Dean Foster's Humanx Commonwealth series, where humans allied with the Thranx. Thranx are insectile — they have an exoskeleton, eight limbs. They are, in essence, good guys. Human ally with the Thranx against an evil species that looks perfectly human, and a highly humanoid reptilian species. Although humans did have some instinctive abhorrence about allying with the buglike Thranx, to their surprise they find more "human" decency in the bugs than the humanoids.
  • Even though it was not a science fiction story, the short story "Leiningen Versus the Ants" is about just that: Leiningen and his plantation crew fighting an army of millions of ants. Although the ants were only a little bigger than normal ones, they could still strip a large pampas stagnote  to the bone in six minutes.
  • First played straight and later subverted in the fantasy novels of Raymond E. Feist. In Magician, the Tsurunuanni Empire sometimes unleashes an ant-like insectoid race called the Cho-Ja on the battlefield, and they're played as horrifyingly effective inhuman killing machines. Later, in the Empire trilogy that he co-wrote with Janny Wurts, we see that the Cho-Ja are intelligent beings, and that their culture is more fair and just than the Tsurani humans they live amongst.
  • The primary enemy of the first two Spellsinger books are the Plated Folk, who are very large insects of various kinds, from flies and beetles to praying mantises. Given this is a world of anthropomorphic mammals and birds, the insect invaders are seen as truly horrible, although that doesn't stop the heroes from allying with the Weavers, giant sapient spiders.
  • The Starfire novels In Death Ground and The Shiva Option have humans and various alien allies fighting Hive Mind Bugs that fit this trope perfectly. They are large and spiderlike in appearance, they are purely telepathic so humans can't communicate with them, and they consider all other intelligent life to be their enemies. For added horror, they prefer their food alive — and human and Orion children are just the right size for a single meal.
  • The Trope Namer is Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 novel Starship Troopers, in which human soldiers battle a race of giant pseudo-arachnids (and their humanoid allies, the Skinnies).
  • Star Wars has the Swarm War, a war between the Galactic Aliance, the Chiss (blue-skinned, red-eyed humanoids) and the Killiks (the insects). It starts out as a territory war, because the Killiks have a prolific reproduction rate and learning basic agriculture and medical care sends their population skyrocketing. They also gradually bring people who hang around too long into their Hive Mind.
  • Those From Nowhere - In French, Ceux de nulle part written by Francis Carsac.note  The book twice subverts the trope. First, the human protagonist makes contact with a race of Green skinned Space Elves (the Hiss) that is fighting a losing war against the "Misliks", metallic bugs who can only exist in absolute zero and are therefore extinguishing every star in the whole universe. When the protagonist manages to make telepathic contact with a Mislik "war prisoner", it appears that he cannot understand any part of the Mislik's mind except its feelings: basically, the bug does not understand what one + one = two means, but it feels sad, alone, and frightened because it is far away from its kin. The second subversion comes from the fact that the green aliens have founded a "league of human worlds": basically, for them, the concept of humanity covers any intelligent species who would rather live under a star than in a frozen universe: so, if you happen to be a giant spider who enjoys the warmth of your homeworld sun, congratulations, you are "human". Actually, the Hiss would probably consider anything to be "human" enough to be worthy of an alliance proposal, so, in order to fight bugs with emotions but a strong dislike of sunlight, the Hiss are ready to form alliances with other bugs who are not offended by sunlight. The book predates Starship Troopers by five years.
  • The war against the Hive in Tour of the Merrimack. The Hive aren't precisely insectoid in appearance, but they fit in the sense of being an endless horde of mindless chitinous horrors which exist only to eat.
  • The Tower and the Hive series by Anne McCaffrey involves a Bug War fought with Psychic Powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Falling Skies: The bug-like alien race are the ones using the most advanced tech, along with biological technology.
  • Lexx often mentions the Great Insect Wars of millennia past. The so-called Insect Civilization was a race of intelligent, moon-sized woodlice who could shrug off direct hits from a Planet Killer, but their human opponents were more resourceful and less predictable.
  • Several episodes of The Outer Limits (1995) played this straight, but the episode "Hearts and Minds" subverts it by having the "bugs" turn out to be humans from a rival corporation; the soldiers had been drugged to see the enemy as disgusting aliens so that they would feel fewer qualms about killing them. The soldiers from the rival corporation were similarly drugged.
  • A subtle theme in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy — the main antagonists, Scorpius and his daughter Trakeena, are insectoid, as are their Stingwingers. Not so much for their generals and monsters (thanks to the source footage). The security forces aboard Terra Venture even wear armor from the Starship Troopers movie to further the theme.
  • Space: Above and Beyond started with shades of this, despite the Chigs being Humanoid Aliens. The humans knew next to nothing about their new enemy, not even being able to see what they looked like due to their space suits dissolving the Chigs when they died or if they were exposed to water. As the show went on, they would gradually learn more and more about them, slowly humanizing them.
  • In Star Fleet, the Imperial Alliance mooks are humanoid termites, and many of their spaceship designs are bug themed.
  • Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis both have some elements of this, although neither is a perfect match for the trope.
    • In SG-1, the Replicators are first introduced as an insectoid techno-organic Hive Mind that have nearly overwhelmed the Asgard. Being made up of a sort of alien lego, they aren't particularly chitinous or drooling, but they are as implacable and tenacious as anything else on this page. Their default form looks like a large spider. Later in the series they develop humanoid variants, but still use insectoid forms for most combat and work.
    • In Atlantis, the Wraith are vampiric Rubber-Forehead Aliens, but it's eventually revealed that they were originally insects that became humanoid after feeding on humans on account of their Bizarre Alien Biology including the ability to assimilate the DNA of their food.
    • The Re'tu play this one straight, being invisible human-sized spiders. Because of their invisibility, most have been hunted and wiped out by the Goa'uld using a device that can make them visible. Of the remaining ones, a radical faction of them has decided to wipe out every human civilization in order to prevent the Goa'uld from getting more hosts. Their weapons include an energy gun of some sort and a small bomb that has the power of a mini-nuke. They are only present in one episode but are mentioned almost every time an invisible assailant has infiltrated their ranks.
  • The Xindi Insectoids from Star Trek: Enterprise are basically giant sapient ants.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Borg were originally intended to be a bug race, the bluegill parasites featured in "Conspiracy". They ended up as humanoid cyborgs largely because it was easier on the special effects budget, making the Borg conflict a Robot War instead. They retained many aspects of this trope, though. They've got the Hive Mind, and although they do have faces, they're always set in a soulless blank stare.
  • Star Trek: Voyager:
    • Subverted in the episode "Nemesis". Chakotay crashes on a jungle planet and becomes involved in a guerrilla war against crab-faced Predator Pastiche aliens after seeing the atrocities they commit against the helpless human-looking aliens. It turns out that he was actually brainwashed by the nice-looking aliens, and the ugly-looking aliens were the ones trying to save him.
    • Subverted with Species 8472, who have a mind very similar to humans'. It's just the appearance difference which led to conflict (and the fact that their first contact was with the Borg).



    Tabletop Games 
  • 3:16 Carnage Amongst the Stars, starring Omnicidal Maniac humans, is a BIG deconstruction of this trope.
  • The Babylon 5-based game Babylon 5 Wars plays with it: the Ch'lonas may be insectoid and hostile to Earth, but they're so outmatched it's more an annoyance than outright war.
  • The Aeon War in CthulhuTech started against the Migou, fungoid insect-things for whom Pluto is a part of their empire. Somewhat unusual in that the Migou are individually sapient, smarter than humanity, and view the destruction of humanity as something akin (ironically) to squashing an oversized bug. The Rapine Storm also can come under this category, as their forces as split between Eldritch Abominations and Reaver-like cultists.
  • Monsterpocalypse later introduces the Savage Swarm.
  • The Fourth Interstellar War in Starfire, between all the civilized races and the Arachnids.
  • Avalon Hill published a "Bookshelf Game" based on Starship Troopers. The first few scenarios are intended to get players used to the basic game rules of combat and movement and are fought between the human Mobile Infantry and the humanoid "Skinnies" rather than the pseudo-arachnid "Bugs", but each scenario introduces a few new rules until eventually the Bugs do appear.
  • In the Palladium Books (makers of Tabletop Game/Rifts) settings Systems Failure the Y2K not only causes a disruption of the world's infrastructure as people feared but it also leads to an invasion by insectoid aliens from another dimension. The Bugs are capable of transforming into pure energy and they use the ability to travel through electrical systems and disrupt human technology. The game focuses on the remnants of NORAD and other human militias fighting a desperate guerilla war against the invaders
  • Tech Infantry was inspired by Armor and Starship Troopers, so of course it has an endless Bug War against insectoid aliens based upon, but even scarier and more powerful than those in Starship Troopers.
  • One of the many, many conflicts that the Imperium of Man of Warhammer 40,000 infamy is embroiled in is a constant galaxy-wide Bug War with the Tyranids, a planet-eating Horde of Alien Locusts who appear be biologically engineered, with some traits of now extinct species, suggesting they assimilate traits from devoured biomass.

  • BIONICLE has had two: one against the prematurely released Bohrok hordes on the island of Mata Nui and another against the Visorak. The Visorak would eventually be wiped out during the Karda Nui arc when the artifact that called them together is brought onto a volatile volcanic island.
  • LEGO Galaxy Squad has humans in space fighting against surprisingly technologically advanced Insectoid Aliens to stop them from trapping people in cocoons for unknown reasons.

    Video Games 
  • Act-Fancer: Cybernetick Hyper Weapon takes place in the aftermath of one, where you're a Cyborg soldier tasked with wiping out hordes of bug-like monsters roaming the ruined earth.
  • Age of Wonders: Shadow Magic combines this with Legions of Hell to produce the Shadow Demons.
  • Used and subverted in Alien Syndrome, the truth was revealed that in the end, the alien queen was very much capable of human thought and emotions and that the reason for the bugs/aliens was due to a failed experiment and that the entire war was a means of an elaborate suicide as she can't take the fact of being the sole survivor of a civilization that was driven to extinction.
  • Armorines: Project S.W.A.R.M. have humanity losing the earth to a horde of alien bugs, with most of earth's continents infested with swarms and swarms of monsters ruled by their Queens. The titular Armourines - a squadron of Space Marines - are tasked with reclaiming the planet, and you play as one of two elite members.
  • The mutants from Assault Retribution resembles insects, have infected most of earth's population, and assault the player in entire hordes.
  • The Gohma from Asura's Wrath has similar monsters to the space monsters above, at least the space faring ones. Played with in that a lot of the other members of the Gohma also consist of monkeys, flying squid and lion fish, elephants, turtles, a king cobra/turtle, yet there's not a bug to be found.
  • Blow Out have you playing a Space Marine One-Man Army dealing with an infestation of alien insects aboard a space station, and killing giant alien bugs by the dozens.
  • Body Harvest: The Bugs are a hostile alien species inhabiting an artificial comet who return every 25 years to consume entire swaths of humanity. Because of time travel being utilized to undo the attacks, you're fighting with them over a hundred year period, and every new generation of the bugs features new enemy units.
  • In Brood Star, humanity is fighting a war against a swarm of monstrous alien bugs.
  • Shows up in Civilization: Beyond Earth where the native alien units consist of Wolf Beetles, Manticores, Raptor Bugs and Siege Worms, among others. They are not automatically hostile towards you, but piss them off and you can end up in this situation.
  • For a more literal example, Command & Conquer: Red Alert had a hidden campaign that pit you against Giant Ants.
  • The Scrin from Command & Conquer: Tiberium Wars are the bug race of the three factions in the game, since their army is made of robotic/biological insectoid units. They came here not to consume us but to turn the planet to a source of Tiberium, which is vital for them. It is the Tiberium itself that would have consumed us. They didn't see Kane coming, though...
  • The Conduit appears to be one of these. Later, it is revealed that they're actually clones as part of a secret Government Conspiracy run by aliens. It's played straight in Conduit 2.
  • A unique case in Conquest: Frontier Wars. The Terrans alone have no chance in winning against the Mantis. However the Mantis are in civil war, so the Terrans decide to aid the rebel Mantis Warlord against the usurpur Queen to save Earth.
  • The TurboGrafx-16 Cyber Core has the twist that the protagonist fighting the insectoid invaders is a half-human, half-insect mashup.
  • Deep Rock Galactic features a less formal "war" than most. The planet Hoxxes is absolutely flush with valuable minerals, but the local giant bugs (known as "Glyphids") are hyper-aggressive and highly carnivorous. The player characters, a band of heavily-armed Space Dwarves, are tasked by the eponymous mining company to extract valuable materials from the planet's cave systems, while the Glyphids simply want to eat and/or drive off anything invading their territory.
  • The Earth Defense Force series feature giant bugs as common enemies. Earth Defense Force: Insect Armageddon, in particular, centers around wiping out massive insectoids.
  • In Elite, humanity is at war with the insectoid Thargoids.
  • Entomorph: Plague of the Darkfall is another example in a fantasy setting. Unlike most examples, the different species of insect each has their own territory and internal politics with one another, which you will use to your advantage. The main character eventually must become an insect creature himself to fight them.
  • EXTRAPOWER: Against Mensouma's bioroid army. His most common unit is the Spy Fly, a giant bipedal dragonfly with a hardened, knife-like tail. Any work featuring Dark Force will have these ZergRushing throughout the invasion.
  • The Thalan Empire in Galactic Civilizations are pretty much a bug race. However they are not malicious, just very suspicious that Humanity's obtainment of the hyperdrive may lead to The End of the World as We Know It. They subvert bug race style personalities as they are limited in number and very high tech.
  • Half-Life: The first game had a bit of this, with headcrabs fighting marines in Black Mesa, but the second game and its expansions kick it into high gear. Not only are there are more headcrab variants, but there's also a rapidly-breeding swarm of Arachnid-like aliens called Antlions. Both species have colonized much of Earth and thus are always around to Zerg Rush the player. By the expansions, Freeman and La Résistance's efforts against the Combine have caused their defensive perimeter to collapse, allowing hordes of Antlions and headcrabs to pour into formerly-safe urban areas, swarming over both the retreating Combine forces and the advancing rebels.
  • In Helldivers and Helldivers II, one of the enemies faced are the Terminids, which are a race of insectoid aliens that are a Horde of Alien Locusts that are a constant menace to Super Earth.
  • Jet Force Gemini. Most (if not all) of the enemies in this game are giant color coded bugs.
  • Scourge: Outbreak has the Scourge, giant alien insects, and the player is part of a four-men elite squad trying to contain their outbreak while fending off hordes of Scourge creatures. They failed - the ending reveals an apocalyptic earth overrun by giant insects.
  • The conflict between the Terrans and the Zerg in StarCraft is a classic Bug War. From this came the classic Zerg Rush.
  • Lost Planet has the ferocious Akrid, whom range from tiny fliers to massive worms and enormous Kaijus. They were strong enough to completely ruin mankind's first colonization attempt on their native planet, which eventually led to the wars seen in the main story of Extreme Condition.
  • Mass Effect has the Rachni War. Unlike many examples, the morality of wiping them all out because they're insects is in doubt - the rachni were intelligent enough to build spacecraft, after all - and later on you get the opportunity to choose to save or kill the surviving rachni queen. Furthermore, it's revealed that the rachni fought the war because Sovereign compelled them to, using a "sour note from space" (basically, he indoctrinated them). In fact, if you save the queen, she'll promise in the second game to aid you against the Reapers. In Mass Effect 3, the queen ends up being captured by the Reapers, who turn her children into husks; you'll have to save her again before she can make good on her promise. If you didn't save the queen in Mass Effect, the Reapers will simply construct an artificial queen in order to produce rachni that can be converted into husks; unlike her natural-born counterpart, she's thoroughly indoctrinated and will sabotage the war effort if you choose to spare her.
  • Space 4X games such as Master of Orion will almost always characterise insectoid species as fast breeding, expansionist and aggressive, making bug wars almost inevitable during a game. These traits are often combined with penalties to science, bonuses to ground combat, and Organic Technology to keep things as close to the Starship Troopers-inspired stereotype as possible.
  • Metroid:
    • Metroid II: Return of Samus and Metroid: Samus Returns revolve around Samus hunting the Metroids in SR388. While the infants look like extraterrestrial jellyfish, the Alpha and Gamma phases of the Metroid lifecycle are very insect-like, though the later metamorphoses are instead dinosaur-like.
    • There is the conflict with the Space Pirates, which almost all resemble insects (to varying degrees, depending on the game), and their society and habits described in the Metroid Prime series is often compared to that of insects.
    • Metroid Prime 2: Echoes has an early plot point dealing with how the Galactic Federation Marines were wiped out by a swarm of insectoid Splinters. Played with, in that while regular Splinters can be fairly dangerous to anyone who isn't as well-armed as Samus, the specimens that attacked the Marines were an abnormally strong and aggressive batch possessed by the Ing, an extradimensional species of Starfish Aliens. Further played with due to the presence of the Luminoth, a race of friendly moth-like humanoids who are bitter enemies of the Ing.
  • The Riftbreaker features Captain Ashley S. Nowak, the titular Riftbreaker, who is an elite commando sent through a one-way portal to a distant planet at the far reaches of the Milky Way Galaxy to build up a base that will allow travel back to Earth and further colonization. The insectoid inhabitants of said planet are not too happy to see Ashley land on their planet and start bulldozing their habitats and plundering their resources.
  • The backstory of Ryzom has, as one of its prominent points, the Great Swarming. Caused by the Fyros running into the Kitins in the Prime Roots and trying to kill them, the resulting Zerg Rush covered most of the surface world where Homins lived and forced the Kami and the Karavan into an Enemy Mine scenario, evacuating Homins to safe havens throughout Atys through use of Mass Teleportation while they did the bulk of the fighting. This is why the Homins now live in what they refer to as "The New Lands". Later on in the game proper, a Second Great Swarming occurred in the New Lands, forcing the Kami and the Karavan to team up and evacuate the Homins to a safe haven again.
  • Starflight series — Somewhat averted: the Veloxi are not very nasty to anyone, but they do charge tolls for flying through their space. Not paying the toll obviously results in a hostile encounter. They also dislike you removing artifacts from planets in their space and not handing them back over. However, that is not what qualifies the aversion. The fact they are in possession of world-destroying bombs they revere as godly artifacts is. Kind of makes you wonder how this even began. They will beat the crap out of you for being bad at maths, as six is a sacred number to them, and their security measures are programmed with this in mind.
  • It can go pretty much any way in Stellaris; custom and procedurally generated arthopoid species, like any species can range anywhere from Absolute Xenophobe to peace-loving space hippies. The preset arthopoids, however, are the Proud Warrior Race Guy Kel-Azaan Republic, the Ix'Idar Hive Mind, and the slave-driving Xanid Suzerainty. All three are likely to come to blows with the United Nations of Earth on ideological grounds if they spawn in the same galaxy, and the xenophobic Commonwealth of Man will probably start an Evil Versus Evil war with them on principle.
  • Starship Troopers: Terran Command is based on the 1997 movie and places you in command of a Mobile Infantry Division sent to prevent the important mining world of Kwalasha from falling into the hands of the Arachnids.
  • In the backstory of Sword of the Stars, first contact for humanity (in modern times) were with the Hivers, a race of intelligent Insectoid Aliens, and it was hostile. The battle was more a case of a Hiver fleet bombarding Earth from orbit until humanity's combined nuclear missile stockpile chased them off. It became subverted when humanity reached to the stars and started merrily killing every Hiver they came across in revenge: The Hivers (like humans) aren't united, and Earth had essentially been hit by a Hiver equivalent of The Remnant. By the time humanity sued for peace over the misunderstanding, they had already pissed off several (otherwise innocent) Hiver clans with (from their POV) unprovoked attacks. Human/Hiver relations are described as somewhat chilly as a result. The Hivers also differ from typical insects in that, besides Queens and Princesses, they also have high-ranking males called Princes, who are the fathers and generals of the clans. According to a short story by the game's writer, a lower-ranking male Hiver can earn his Prince wings by merit, but many are simply born Princes. Thanks to Bizarre Alien Biology a promoted Prince is still born a Prince, their mind is reborn in a Prince morph body.
  • Templar Battleforce revolves around the fight between the titular Templars, who are super solider space marines with mechs, huge guns and millions of hours of training, against the xenos.
  • Vivisector: Beast Within has a normal marine fighting against a legion of cybernetically and genetically enhanced Mix-and-Match Critters at war with your fellow soldiers... though the trope is subverted, not only due to the fact that the marine switches sides to fight with the beasts against the humans, but the creatures you're fighting were created for your XO (some of which he promptly sends after you when you defect), and you're fighting them to help him regain control of them.
  • Although it is a fantasy setting, the Warcraft franchise has played host to several Bug Wars involving the insectoid Aqir empire and its descendants.
    • First, the Aqir fought a war of attrition against the two dominant troll empires of the time, the Gurubashi and the Amani. This lasted several millennia before the trolls ultimately succeeded and split the Aqir empire into three. Those three factions would all evolve on separate paths and become involved in their own Bug Wars.
    • The Aqir who fled north would become the spider-like Nerubians, who became one of the dominant forces on Northrend. This would come to end in the War of the Spider, where the Nerubians stood against and were defeated by the undead Scourge, with most becoming undead themselves. This is a rare example of a Bug War where the Bugs were arguably the good guys, or at least the Lesser of Two Evils. Living Nerubians continue to work against the Scourge as of Wrath of the Lich King.
    • Those who fled to the southwestern desert of Silithus would become the Qiraji, who would later war with the Night Elves in the War of the Shifting Sands. The Qiraji were largely successful until they make the mistake of attacking the Caverns of Time, which would the draw the Bronze, Red, Green, and Blue dragonflights into the war. With their dragon allies, the Night Elves were able to force the Qiraji back behind the walls of their capital of Ahn'Qiraj and seal them there. Players would later raid Ahn'Qiraj in World of Warcraft when the Qiraji started successfully reaching beyond the walls again.
    • Mists of Pandaria introduced the mantis/bee-like Mantid, a previously unknown Aqir offshoot that lived on the southern continent of Pandaria. Every hundred years they swarm the rest of Pandaria, a process meant to cull their weak and leave the race stronger as a whole. As of Mists of Pandaria, their Empress is possessed by a Sha, who compels them to launch their assault roughly a decade early, catching the other races off guard and alarming the Klaxxi, the Mantid elder council. The Klaxxi seek players' help in replacing the insane Empress, but then turn against them by allying with Garrosh Hellscream when he acquires the heart of their god, Y'Shaarj.

  • While they may or may not be human in origin any fight with the Slaver wasps from Girl Genius fits quite well. You have Warriors, which do the direct fighting, drones that do the enslaving (by flying into people's mouths), and the Queen, kept alive by a Hive Engine apparatus and rendered sessile from it. Except for newer models, that can chase down prey themselves.
  • Outsider: The story revolves around an interstellar war between the Loroi and Umiak. The Loroi are Space Elves, while the Umiak are very insect-like in their appearance, being six-legged, multiple-eyed, having a chitinous exoskeleton, and a language that vocally is basically clicks and ticks due to having mandibles instead of jaws. Even their ships have an organic, almost insect-like feel to them.
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • An early storyline has the Toughs hired to provide security for a Restaurant Ship; they end up opposite diamond-carapaced beetles.
    • While Kaff Tagon is getting prepared to join a mission run by Para Ventura (after a Batman Gambit that includes Schlock) Petey- the "Psycho-Bear of Destruction" in charge of the galactic core- complains he's being manipulated, Tagon responds with "He's manipulating me out of the tub you manipulated me into, so he's due a bug hunt."
  • The overarching plot of Starfighter is about a space war between humans and the bug-like aliens the Colterons.

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Alternative Title(s): The War On Bugs


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