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Insectoid Aliens

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It was no accident that they looked insectlike to human beings. Though their internal organs were now much more complex and specialized than any insects, and they had evolved an internal skeleton and shed most of the exoskeleton, their physical structure still echoed their ancestors, who could easily have been very much like Earth's ants. "But don't be fooled by that," said Graff. "It's just as meaningful to say that our ancestors could easily have been very much like squirrels."

You've got Humanoid Aliens, and you've got Starfish Aliens. Somewhere in between are the Insectoid Aliens: aliens modeled after Earth arthropods.

Partial inspiration for this trope comes from "Eusocial insects," including the order Hymenoptera (ants and bees) and Termites, who are able to create societies with caste systems and complex habitats similar to that of Human cities. Thus often these aliens will invoke Hive Mind, Bee People, Horde of Alien Locusts and a philosophy of We Have Reserves, Zerg Rush and Attack! Attack! Attack!. A Bug War will often (although not always) feature opponents that actually look like bugs.

Due to What Measure Is a Non-Cute? (and arthropods specifically known to provoke fear in humans) such aliens are likely to be Always Chaotic Evil, though exceptions do exist (as the page picture shows). Overlaps with Big Creepy-Crawlies, though this trope deals specifically with extraterrestrial bugs. The Xenomorph Xerox also owes a lot to this trope.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS introduces Lutecia, who has the ability to summon these. According to side materials, the giant Jiraiyo beetles come from the mountainous region of an uninhabited planet, while the insectoid Kaiju Hakutenou is a rare creature from a planet outside TSAB jurisdiction.
  • The Vajra from Macross Frontier can not only survive in space, but are perfectly capable of both fold communication and fold travel. While also producing the biological equivalent of missiles in their bodies.
  • The Baikins from Anpanman, despite being called "alien germs", are more insect like than anything else. They have antenna (most have only one, some have two), most of the males have mandible-equse teeth structures, and a few of them have tiny fly-like wings that they can buzz around with. Their smaller minions, Kabirunrun, look like vaguely bug-like blobs, having four arms and antenna.
  • The members of the Bronze Tribe in Heroic Age are also insectoid aliens.

    Comic Books 
  • The Zylons from DC Comics' Star Raiders graphic novel.
  • The Antarenes, from Superworld Comics, look like large green ants. They attempted to push the Earth into the sun and replace it with their own planet.
  • The hero Bug from Micronauts, and his race the Insectivorids.
  • The "bugs" of New Genesis evolved as a result of biological weapons used by Apokolips. They're an intelligent race, though still animalistic in their culture. They're treated with terrible Fantastic Racism by the planet's Human Aliens, who regard them literally as vermin (which is highly hypocritical, or at least ignorant, for the inhabitants of a planet that is supposed to very literally represent the side of good). Forager, a new god raised by the bugs, tries to be a bridge between the two peoples.
  • Katydid from Omega Men.
  • The Ash'ka'phageous species which Supergirl comes upon in Bizarrogirl are a race of planet-eating aliens resembling bipedal insects (unless the're travelling between worlds. Then they look like giant winged cocoons). They spawn swarms ofbug-like critters.
  • The Fantastic Four's enemy Annihilus.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes member Gates.
    • Also their enemy, the Spider Guild.
  • The Sectaurs, in Marvel's comic based on the line of action figures.
  • The Urnethi in Sojourn.
  • Captain Marvel's worst enemy (not his most frequent - that'd be Dr. Sivana) has always been Mr. Mind, a tiny caterpillar-like alien with enormous psychic powers.
  • Nemesis the Warlock: The planet Arachnos is inhabited by a sentient race of Giant Spiders. Most of them are quite friendly, however.
  • The Titans in Yoko Tsuno are giant grasshopper-like aliens that walk upward. Their bodies are laced with titanium to withstand the stronger gravity on the planet Vinea. The Titans are also highly technologically advanced and their bodies are grafted with equipment and cybernetics.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In Catwoman Annual #3, an insectoid alien visits a museum and hears the story of the heroic Commissioner Joker's battle with the villainous Batman and Catwoman on Old Earth.

    Eastern Animation 

    Fan Works 

  • The Prawns from District 9 are Humanoid Aliens with an insectoid slant.
  • Edgar the Bug, the main villain from the first Men in Black film is a twenty foot long cockroach from outer space.
  • The titular aliens from the Alien films aren't strictly insectoid, but they do have biomechanical-looking exoskeletons and an ant-like society.
  • The Martians in Five Million Years to Earth (AKA Quatermass and the Pit) looked like large locusts.
  • The villains of Godzilla vs. Gigan are cockroaches from space.
  • The Geonosians in Attack of the Clones. The Star Wars Expanded Universe offers up many more examples, such as the Vratix (who invented the healing substance called bacta) and the Killiks.
  • This is what Kim Jong Il from Team America: World Police is shown to be at the end of the film.
  • The Arachnids from Starship Troopers. They come in various shapes and sizes too - the common "infantry", so to speak, consists of pretty large (taller than humans, but not by much), four-legged, shrieking horrors, but there are also giant fire-breathing beetles, dragonfly-wasp-fly-like flyers big enough to grab and lift a man from the ground and, best of all, enormous brain-eaters that resemble bloated larvae. They seem to have a hive mind system.
  • The aliens in Alien Apocalypse (2005) are locust-like and feed on trees.
  • Mr. Scroop from Treasure Planet, who combines features from a spider and crab.
  • In the Soviet two-part sci-fi film Moscow — Cassiopeia, Lob is a sci-fi fan and is constantly spouting his expectations of aliens. In his mind, they should look somewhat like dragonflies (he calls them "strekozoids" formed from "strekoza", Russian for "dragonfly" and the "-oid" suffix). Unfortunately, he's Wrong Genre Savvy, and the aliens are humanoid.
  • The creatures in A Quiet Place appear to be this, at least based on their legs.
  • The Lectroids in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension are ant people (hence the red and black factions). They're not evil as a species. The bad guys in the movie are rogue criminals hated by their own government because of their Fantastic Racism.
  • The invaders in High Plains Invaders (dubbed 'Bugs' by the townsfolk) are giant four-legged bugs with stinger tails.

  • The Pseudo-Arachnids/"Bugs" from the original Starship Troopers are an early example of this trope, and are much more technologically advanced than their movie counterparts.
  • The Formics from Ender's Game are insectlike with a Hive Mind. They are also nicknamed "Buggers".
    • Expanded upon in the Ender's Game Alive audioplay, where Ender explores the Formic-made tunnels on Eros and notes that Formic ship movements sometimes mimic these tunnels, resulting in a Eureka Moment when Ender realizes that this must mean that the queens aren't always in direct control over all the drones, and those that are left "on automatic" go back to their pre-sentience roots and try to "burrow" through space.
  • The "Wormface" aliens in Robert A. Heinlein's YA novel Have Space Suit – Will Travel.
  • Several races in the Star Trek Novel Verse. Most are highly conservative cultures, and range from the peaceful Nasat, who resemble giant pillbugs and are known for their desire to avoid conflict (see Starfleet Corps of Engineers in particular), through the Orishans, to the hostile Cheka, who resemble spiders. There are also Kaferians, Jarada and the wasp-race in the first Starfleet Corps of Engineers story.
  • The thranx of the Humanx Commonwealth series by Alan Dean Foster (see the page pic). As the name would imply, humans and thranx are allies.
  • The Groaci of Retief are vaguely insectile.
  • The Taxxons and (to some extent) the Helmacrons from Animorphs.
    • In this series, The Greys are called the Skrit Na, the "Skrit" being a sort of larval stage that looks like a giant cochroach.
    • Also, the Nesk from "In the Time of Dinosaurs," which are ants which take on large shapes.
  • In Everworld, the Hetwans, which act like mindless drones in service of their god, Ka Anor. Particular focus is paid to their pedipalps (though they're never called that), which still move after they're killed. They came from another universe separate from either Everworld or ours.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos:
    • The Mi-Go can fit, although in their introductory story "The Whisperer in Darkness", they are more commonly described as crustaceans.
    • Also "the insect-philosophers that crawl proudly over the fourth moon of Jupiter" mentioned in "Beyond the Wall of Sleep".
    • Not extraterrestrial, but "The Shadow Out of Time" indicates that a race of giant sapient beetles will emerge on Earth in Humanity's Wake.
  • The Miktok in the Confederation of Valor series are giant spiders that are renowned for the beauty of their art.
  • The Tyr, the Saudar, and one slave race in The Madness Season are, respectively, ant-like aliens (in habit if not in exact appearance), beetle-like aliens, and spider-like aliens.
  • The narrator of The Flight Engineer remarks that the Fibians seem to be tailor-made to push all of humanity's arthropod-related fear buttons. Take the body of a spider and inflate it to five feet tall with males and over ten feet tall with females. Replace the front pair of legs with hands. Add a whiplike stinger to the abdomen.
  • The S'krrr in Galaxy of Fear: The Swarm. They even communicate with Bug Buzz.
  • In Andre Norton's Storm Over Warlock, the Throg are insectile.
  • The appropriately-named Insects in Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy look like upright-walking black ants about the size of a human who communicate via telepathy. While each Insect is an individual, the Hive "mental field" can be used to remove an Insect's individuality, turning it into a mindless drone for use as cheap workforce or soldiers. Because of this, the Insects have never developed cybernetics and are baffled by human-made cyborgs and Humongous Mecha.
  • The Shan in Ramsey Campbell fiction, first appear in The Insects From Shaggai, a race of small insectoid interstellar refugees who arrived on Earth centuries ago from the planet Shaggai that orbits twin emerald suns.
  • The Ferrotophagous in Daniel Garro's El niño mariposa and Mi corazón de metal are big metalic insectoid iron-eaters.
  • The Locrians in Isaac's Universe, a series of anthologies from several authors inspired by Isaac Asimov.
  • The Selenites in H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon are among the earliest in fiction.
  • The Priest-Kings of Gor.
  • In Angel Station, many servants of The Beloved, like the navigator race, are insectoid or crustacean-like.
  • In The Balanced Sword, the world of Zarathan has many sapient races of a variety of shapes and sizes, including an unnamed insectoid race whose members tend to show up as mooks.
  • One of the first sentient species the wizards notice on Roundworld in The Science of Discworld is a race of intelligent city-building crabs. Which are crustaceans, but close enough.
  • The Mesklinites of Mission of Gravity, who live on a high-gravity world where it helps to be close to the ground, resemble centipedes. Unlike many examples of this trope, they avert Big Creepy-Crawlies - Hal Clement was aware of the Square-Cube Law - and are not much bigger than giant centipedes on Earth. As Heavy Worlders, Mesklinites are prodigiously strong for their size, and they are much more durable than comparable terrestrial organisms. However, despite their very alien appearance, they have a surprising amount of psychological common ground with humans.
  • The Phinons of Dykstra's War are not only insectoid in appearance, but mentally, they are nearly mindless hive insects. All of their "technology" consists of structures that they evolved to make, like bees making beehives. They're tremendously formidable, but not adaptable, and there's absolutely no negotiating with them because they're basically animals.
  • The large intelligent spiders of Children of Time. Although the term 'alien' is arguable (being the unforeseen result of an ancient human experiment gone awry on a terraformed planet).

    Live-Action TV 
  • There's an alien like this in the Doctor Who episode "Utopia".
    • A different species, resembling humanoid flies appear in "Planet of the Dead". The TARDIS is not present in this episode to provide Translator Microbes, so you get to hear their actual language (which is composed of clicking sounds). The Doctor translates and makes his own clicking sounds to talk to them.
    • The Wirrin from "The Ark In Space" are widely believed to have been an inspiration for the film Alien.
    • "The Web Planet" was inhabited by two insectoid races, the friendly Monoptera and the sinister Zarbi. The Zarbi are naturally like cattle but are being controlled by Eldritch Abomination the Animus.
    • The threat from "The Unicorn and the Wasp" turned out to be an actual (giant extraterrestrial) wasp.
    • Sil's disgusting race that look like slimy, wormlike bugs, but with semihumanoid arms and faces.
  • One of the five Xindi races in Star Trek: Enterprise is the Insectoids, which look like human sized mantises.
  • A crime lord in the early seasons of Babylon 5 is basically a sentient praying mantis. There are also the Shadows, which basically look like human-sized, black, spiky spider people, and the Gaim (who underneath their environmental suits look like giant ants).
  • A number of the less silly aliens from Power Rangers tend towards this, although being played by men in suits, they're usually still bipedal. Most notably are the Barillian Bugs that wiped out most of Andros' homeworld of KO-35 from Power Rangers in Space. They are The Virus- get stung by one, and you slowly turn into one.
  • The Worms from Kamen Rider Kabuto.
  • The Reetou, from the Stargate-verse, have an insectoid structure.
  • The alien invaders in The Twilight Zone (1985) episode A Day In Beaumont are grasshopper-like.
  • The Ultra Series has plenty.
  • The original The Outer Limits episode "The Zanti Misfits" has the Zanti, a race of intelligent ants about the size of rats, but with human-like faces.

    Other Sites 
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-875 ("War Criminals"). SCP-875-1 are flying insects that are different from any known Earthly species, indicating that they are from another world. The large creatures in the cryogenic stasis chambers are also insectoid in nature and are presumably from the same source.



    Tabletop Games 
  • Space 1889 the Selenites of the introductory adventure.
  • One of the races that the Tau are allied with in the Warhammer 40,000 universe are the insectoid Vespid. The Tyranids are also heavily modeled after Earth insects, having six limbs and chitinous armor (though thankfully, no Earth insect we know of has More Teeth than the Osmond Family or Combat Tentacles).
  • In Starfire, the enemy aliens-bent-on-genocide during the Fourth Interstellar War are called the Arachnids. I'll give you one guess as to what they look like.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
  • As mentioned above, Star Frontiers has the Rastipedes, but calls them "Vrusk" instead.
  • Star Fleet Battles has the Seltorians, that have brought to the Milky Way the war they had in their home galaxy with the Tholians.
  • The Shirren of Starfinder, former members of a Horde of Alien Locusts and one of the game's playable races.

  • The late 90s Insectoids line of Lego sets featured a planet populated by various giant insect species - therefore, the ships of the planet's colonists all had deliberately bug-like features, as a means of disguise from the local wildlife.
  • Sectaurs: Warriors of Symbion was a line of action figures with an insectoid theme. They received a Marvel comic and a Five-Episode Pilot for a TV series.
  • The action figure line "Bug-Men of Insecta."
  • Boogly from Mixels, in contrast to the other Glowkies, who look like bats, is a beetle-like Mixel.

    Video Games 
  • If insects reach sentience in SimEarth, this can happen.
  • The Drudge from The Conduit and Conduit 2
  • Yars' Revenge. They're actually originally Earth insects that became mutated into alien creatures.
  • Halo:
    • One of the races of the Covenant are Drones, or Yanme'e, insectoid flying aliens who are organized into eusocial hives.
    • The last Precursor has been described as an unholy combination of mammal and insectoid, with special mention going to a fat spider body and legs and jewel-like, compound eyes. Turns out it's just one of an infinite number of forms they can take, though.
  • Half-Life 2 has Antlions, which are (presumably) from Xen. They have a King instead of a queen, for variety.
  • The rachni from Mass Effect. Also, from the second game, the Collectors (formerly Protheans).
  • Conquest: Frontier Wars: The mantis.
  • The Space Pirates from Metroid seem to switch between this and humanoid crustaceans which are more fleshy or scaled creatures that wear insectoid armor. Metroid Prime also wears insectoid armor it stole from the Pirates but is something entirely different underneath. There are plenty of straight examples of course, like the Ki-Hunters and Kanden.
    • The Luminoth of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes are a race of moth-like people. Their archnemeses the Ing are also fairly insect-like, in a Lovecraftian sort of way at least.
  • The Hivers from Sword of the Stars.
  • The Scrin from the Command & Conquer: Tiberian Series
  • The Mandibugs and their leader Bugaboom from Super Mario Galaxy. Averted with the bees, however.
  • StarCraft: The appearance of the Zerg units borrows from all kinds of animal sources, including insectoid or arthropodal traits. The Zerg are also ruled by a Hive Mind.
  • The Odarites from Otherspace, ant-wasp things forced into a mafia-like corporate structure from birth.
  • EarthBound: Buzz Buzz.
  • Klackons in the Master of Orion games. Tachidi in the third.
  • The Mantids from Turok 2.
  • The Nephilim from Wing Commander: Prophecy.
  • The Mantis from FTL: Faster Than Light look like, well, human-sized praying mantises. Their culture is stated to be aggressive and violent and they get bonuses to combat and movement speed, but halved repair rates.
  • All of the native fauna you can encounter in Civilization: Beyond Earth are insectoid, with the occasional bit of Sand Worm or Giant Enemy Crab features mixed in.
  • The Orphe in Xenoblade Chronicles X are bipedal with two major arms, but otherwise look and act insectoid, being linked to each other by a force called the Ovah giving them a hive-like mind. They are technologically astute, but socially limited, and like to eat plants.
  • Stellaris lets you play as a variety of arthropod aliens, all nicely varied in terms of limb number and body strucure. Uniquely, there's also a selection of mollusc aliens. Their natures are procedurally generated and vary as widely as any other kind of alien, but the two "canon" species are the Ix'Idar Star Collective (Dirty Commies that look vaguely like giant termites with spindly arms), the Kel-Azaan Republic (humanoid Proud Warrior Race Guys), and the giant cockroaches that might be running around a post-apocalyptic Earth and can be uplifted.
  • Earth and Beyond's V'rix and their ships were very insectile. Design documents released after its servers were shut down revealed that this was not their true form, but one chosen specifically to play off humanities deepest primal fears and their technology was a perversion of human tech.
  • In Colobot, all alien lifeforms you come across are for some reason just large insects, such as ants, wasps or spiders.
  • The Arachnides from the Far Cry 5 DLC Lost on Mars borrow design elements from insects and crustaceans (the two protagonists usually call them "crabbies"), come in various castes with queens at the top, build insectoid nests and generally fulfill just about any stereotype of Insectoid Aliens you can think of - just as intended.
  • The Blisk in Destroy All Humans! 2 are Martian aliens described as a cross between cockroaches and lobsters. We don't learn much about their society, but they're stated to have an imperviousness to radiation, and are implied to have manipulated all Russian history since a warship of theirs crashed in Tunguska in 1908. The Cold War was part of their attempt to remake Earth In Their Own Image.

    Web Comics 
  • The Martians from It's Walky!.
  • Galaxion has the Miesti, roughly the size of a butterfly.
  • Captain Ufo has the scorpion pirates from season one. Also, several background characters in crowd scenes seems to belong to some kind of insectoid race.
  • Homestuck 's trolls sure look human, but their growth line is rather insectoid. They're born from eggs bred by a 'Mother Grub', and when they hatch, they're tiny, Ugly Cute bugs called grubs, and after that, they're Raised by Wolves.
  • The Junk Hyenas Diner (made by the creater of Slightly Damned) has the Grom-Grom which look like seven-foot four armed preying mantises, however they are typically laidback herbivores, they also sometimes eat rotting plant matter.
  • Leaving the Cradle has Insectoids, which appear as something inbetween an ant and mantis. They subvert most of the usual associated tropes though, being rather small, having individuality and the queen being important for egg-laying ability, rather than being absolute monarch.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Beast Wars a portion of the antagonist Predacon faction transform into various Arthropods including wasps and spiders (the female forms, ironically despite being apparently male). One former protagonist Maximal, Blackarachnia is also a spider.
  • Ben 10 can turn into Stinkfly, Big Chill, Crashhopper, and Eatle.
  • The aptly-named Insecticans from Earthworm Jim.
  • The Irkens from Invader Zim look sort of like a cross between Insectoid Aliens and Little Green Men.
  • Space Ghost
    • Zorak was a giant praying mantis. He had unintelligent insect servants called mosquitoids in "Zorak".
    • Lokar was a large locust. He had unintelligent insect servants (giant metal-eating locusts) in "Lokar - King of the Killer Locusts".
    • Giant ant/spider hybrids were minions of the Spider Woman in "The Web".
  • The more robotic Insecticons in The Transformers can clone themselves and perform locust like swarms, unlike other Transformers (at least at the time) they can digest organic matter alongside Energon.
    • The episode "Quest For Survival" involves a species of alien plant that finds Insecticon clones delicious. After conveniently eating the Insecticons' army, the Autobots load them all onto a spaceship and send them to "a planet of robotic insects." Sure, okay.
  • Looney Tunes: Marvin the Martian, while not obviously insect-like and more of a Little Green Man, was apparently supposed to be ant-like. In a way, this makes sense; he's completely black and has no mouth and huge eyes, with a diminutive stature to match.
  • The inhabitants of Planet Ice in Shadow Raiders are insectoid aliens.
  • The Cygnoids from Futurama, a race of vaguely cockroach-like aliens who behave (and speak) like stereotypical Italian-Americans.
  • An episode of Samurai Jack was about Jack rescuing a pair of butterfly-like aliens from Aku.
  • The Cluster of My Life as a Teenage Robot who are also Mechanical Lifeforms. They usually resemble beetles (Smytus, Krackus, the mooks) or wasps (Vexxus and Vega), though a mosquito-like individual appeared as head of the Secret Police in "Escape from Cluster Prime". Most of their subjects are standard robots assimilated by them though.
  • More than you can count in Men in Black, but some of the more notable are the Lilliputian Warriors Fmtek, the Hive Mind Skraaldian and the Bugs (see the film section).
  • As the title suggests, Dex Hamilton: Alien Entomologist has dedicated his life to studying alien insects.

Alternative Title(s): Insectoid Alien


Example of: