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Mechanical Insects

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Sometimes in fiction there's an overlap of bugs and machines being mixed into one new type of being: Robo-Bugs. These robo-bugs have what you call the best of both worlds: multiple limbs and visors/eyes, sometimes they have wings and other body parts that only bugs have. These critters usually will appear being employed as Mecha Mooks by the villains or have antagonistic roles, though that does not mean that necessarily all examples will be evil-aligned or antagonistic.

Generally speaking, the main reason for the trope's usage might be rooted in that both bugs and robots are both usually seen as uncanny by many people and that the bugs' different anatomy to vertebrates might make them look off compared to all other living beings. Sometimes an inversion might be found with bugs which have robot-like characteristics or become cyborgs, though these tend to overlap with other tropes.


Another reason for this trope's usage is that one of the main issues with building robots is stability: two-legged robots tend to tip over very easily, and while wheels and tracks are more stable they also don't do too well on uneven terrain. Multiple legs solve both issues at once, and most real-life robots tend to have four or six walking limbs.

Can be considered a subtrope of Starfish Robots. Super-trope to Literal Surveillance Bug, which specifically covers ones employed for espionage. Also compare to Insectoid Aliens, Mechanical Horse and Robot Dog. Larger specimens may overlap with Spider Tank.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Animatrix: In "The Second Renaissance," the Machines are first shown as humanoid robots designed for simple labor; as they attain sentience and begin forming a more complex society, their forms evolve into the more efficient, insectoid Machines seen in the Matrix Trilogy.
  • Appleseed: The fourth volume features arachnid robots with distinct abdomens that are almost entirely made up of a minigun and its absurdly large ammo drum.
  • Digimon: Many Digimon in the franchise are robotic-based with a few individuals standing out in the anime adaptations:
    • Digimon Frontier: Trailmon Worm is a living Digimon train with the features of insects such as multiple eyes and a segmented body (serving as the "cars").
    • Digimon Fusion: Ballistamon is a humanoid robotic Digimon who's modeled after hercules beetles.

    Films — Animation 
  • Wreck-It Ralph: The Cy-Bugs (pictured above) are a very literal example of the trope, as they're a swarm of bugs with technological characteristics.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Matrix Revolutions. As Neo is walking through the machine city, a number of insect-like robots crawl out of the walls and follow him.
  • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie: Ivan Ooze's Ecto-Morphicon Titans, Hornitor and Scorpitron, are robotic bugs. As their names imply, they are based on a hornet and scorpion, respectively.
  • Minority Report: The Bureau of Precrime can send small, spiderlike drones into an apartment building to scan the retinas of its occupants. The little spider-bots typically swarm in by the hundreds, crawling up the bodies of many residents to scan their retinas for identification. Most people are aware of them, and wisely let the bots do their jobs, since interference constitutes a crime.
  • Star Wars: In the prequel trilogy, the Confederacy's droid armies include a number of arthropod-like models.
    • Spider droids are spherical robots with four jointed legs arranged equidistantly around their midsections and powerful laser guns mounted on their fronts (for the small ones) or undersides (for the large ones).
    • Crab droids have larger, jointed legs and rust-red, exoskeleton-like plating. They're mostly melee fighters that grapple and beat at their enemies.
    • The droideka, who serve as the Confederacy's elite heavy infantry, look like mechanical scorpions, with a pair of twin blaster cannons instead of claws and a curved, forward-facing back plate with a sensor head that resembles a stinger tail. In the Star Wars Legends continuity, they were modeled after their creators, a carnivorous Insectoid Alien species called the Colicoids.
  • The Transformers films have their own version of the Insecticons, which are Earth insect-sized drones used for espionage, search, and repair work.

  • Animorphs: The Bug Fighter is the standard Yeerk combat ship, resembling a headless cockroach with two spear-like protusions for energy weapons.
  • The Dark Side of the Sun: The planet Laoth is deliberately kept sterile, so its inhabitants created an ecosystem of robot life, including insects.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Black Mirror: In "Hated in the Nation", after the bees went nearly extinct, many countries utilized Automatic Drone Insects (ADI for short) to carry out pollination. These drones are capable of self-replicating and building hives on their own, with these hives featuring 3D printing devices (which falls short, as they are unable to make honey). They are also used by government to spy on the populace, and were hacked to kill anyone who was voted to be killed on Twitter through the use of the #DeathTo hashtag. The real targets are not the hashtag targets, but those who used the hashtag.
  • Stargate SG-1 features the Replicators, who are primarily found as a swarm of insect- or spider-shaped things composed of thousands of metal 'blocks'. Each block in turn contains millions of Applied Phlebotinum circuits, allowing the Replicators to not only reassemble themselves or combine with each other in a myriad frightening ways, but interface with and take control of anyone else's technology with truly terrifying speed. When moving in large numbers (and they're always in large numbers, or will be very quickly) they make a very distinctive metallic chittering sounds. In any episode where that sound is heard, expect things to rapidly get worse.
  • The X-Files: In "War of the Coprophages", the inhabitants of a small town are seemingly being attacked and killed by cockroaches. The deaths all turn out to have mundane explanations, but they do discover something more bizarre: some of the cockroaches in town prove to be robots with metal exoskeletons, which an expert in the field declares to be far more advanced than anything he's ever seen. It's never confirmed where they come from, but Mulder suspects they may be alien surveillance drones.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Clockwork horrors are mechanical spider-like constructs about two feet across that live in large swarms, where their role and status is determined by the metal they're made out of — electrum ones are soldiers, gold ones commanders, platinum ones generals, and a single adamantine horror rules the swarm. They reproduce by consuming metal and using it to construct new swarm members. They're extremely efficient at this; if a swarm is allowed to grow unchecked, it can quickly strip a city of metal and go on to threaten the rest of the country.
  • Magic: The Gathering has a number of this, mostly typed as artifact creatures and as insects; they're especially common in the biomechanical planes of Phyrexia and Mirrodin. There's some considerable variety, both in constitution (clockwork creatures, robots and magically-animated metal are all present) and in species (ants, beetles, gnats, mantises, millipedes and ticks are all represented).
  • Starblazer Adventures: In the Mindjammer setting, the Venu forces use spider-shaped war robots that can climb walls and are adept at moving in zero-G environments.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Canoptek constructs created by the Necrons to act as Attack Drones, and caretakers of their Tomb Worlds, are typically crafted to resemble extremely large insects. Beetles (Canoptic Scarabs), spiders (Canoptek Spyders) and centipedes (Tomb Stalkers) are some of the more recognisable forms that these robotic creatures can take, but even the stranger looking constructs such as Canoptek Wraiths and Reanimators have forms based loosely on insectoid life (spider-snake and water strider-Martian tripod hybrids respectively).
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: The Digital Bug archetype has trait of this, as the bugs in the archetype have a lot of digital-covered body parts and are mechanical in appearance. They also simultaneously reference how errors in computers are called "bugs" as their lore has them as inhabitants of the inside of a computer.

  • LEGO:
    • The Insectoids run centered around building enormous mechanical bugs. However, these bugs were actually vehicles for colonists on a hostile alien planet, who designed them to resemble bugs in order to blend in with the massive predatory insects native to the planet.
    • BIONICLE: Some of the semi-mechanical wildlife took the form of giant bugs, such as the dragonfly-esque Nui Rama, the beetle-like Bohrok, and the spider-like Visorak.
  • Many toys of robot bugs have been made. Among the most popular examples being the Hexbugs, which are designed after ticks and minuscule bugs and are placed inside maces for them to complete.
  • Transformers: Shows up with a few characters, but the ones that fit the description best are the Insecticons, Kickback, Bombshell, and Skrapnel. According to their bios they may even be a separate species from normal Cybertronians. Transmetals and Transmetals 2 increased the robotic appearances of Waspinator, Black Arachnia, and Tarantulus from Transformers Beast Wars.

    Video Games 
  • Bug Fables: Bee-Boops are robotic drones modelled after the non-anthropomorphic bees whose purpose is to protect the Honey Factory against the intruders. Unfortunately, due to Code 32 being in effect, they now interpret anyone as an intruder. There is also a larger version of Bee-Boop called Heavy Drone B-33, whose purpose is to protect the factory core itself, and it serves as the main boss of Chapter 3.
  • Clockwords: The rival inventor sends mechanical bugs that look like brown spiders and climb on bookshelves to steal the inventor's documents.
  • Dawn of War:
    • Builder Scarabs are, well, builders that summon Necron structures. They also have a long detection range and are the only unit in the Necron army that can capture strategic points.
    • Tomb Spyders are spider-like constructs that serve as the Necron's melee vehicle. Uniquely, they aren't contructed but exist as corpses around the Monolith when the game starts and are resurrected where they fell. They can also harvest dead units to reassemble them into replacement squads (somehow) and spawn Scarabs, swarms of machines that can overwhelm enemies (and in Soulstorm, serve as the Necrons' flyers).
  • Donkey Kong Country:
  • Freedom Planet has several insect-like robots appearing as enemies in the game. There are Dragonflies, aerial robots modelled after their namesakes; Fireflies, who attack with electric light bulbs in their heads; Stingers, green wasp-like robots that attack in huge swarms especially if disturbed in their nests; Wretchnid, a spider-like robot that serves as the Mini-Boss and is encountered in the first stage of the game; and Mantalith, an ancient construct modelled after the praying mantis that attacks with its massive claws or biting its victims, and serves as the end boss of the Stage 2.
  • Freedom Wars: The Paradoxa-class Abductors are giant robot spiders covered in plates of armor and fire missiles willy-nilly. Along with firing sticky webs out of their cannons, Paradoxas also shed their armor for speed when enough damage is dealt, making them even more aggressive than before.
  • Heroes of the Storm: One of Anub'arak's skins turns him into a mecha-scarab.
  • Horizon Zero Dawn: Corruptors are large, scorpion-like robots mounted on four legs and armed with clamps on the tips of their tails and grenade launchers mounted on their backs.
  • Mass Effect 2: The Collectors are formerly members of the insectoid Prothean race that were given Unwilling Roboticisation to serve as soldiers for the Reapers. In addition, they all use a number of insectoid and insect-like weapons, such as "Seeker" swarms which bite and immobilize their targets without killing them, allowing the Collectors to abduct subjects en masse for experimentation and Reaper conversion.
  • Mario Party 6: The battle mini-game "Insectiride" has players control four different bug-like vehicles, each with their own button mechanic.
  • Mother 3: One of the first enemies you encounter are Fire Flies which are mechanical bugs that have the ability to breathe fire and are used to set fire to Sunshine Forest in the first chapter.
  • Pokémon Black and White: Genesect is not only a metallic bug, but also a prehistoric insect that was revived and given robotic enhancements by Team Plasma to make the most powerful Pokémon ever. Giving it different "drives" allows it to change the type of its signature move Techno Blast, and it can fold its limbs to transform into a flying saucer.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: These are common mooks that Sonic faces. Ranging from weak to somewhat tough ones. Motobugs are robotic ladybugs that run on one wheel and are generally easy to destroy, Buzz Bombers are robotic wasps that shoot lasers from their thoraxes, Caterkillers are robotic caterpillars that scatter if Sonic hits one of their body segments rather than their heads, and Grabbers are robotic spiders that grab Sonic in their legs and explode after they catch him.
  • Spyro: Year of the Dragon: The level "Bugbot Factory", in which the player controls Spyro's dragonfly sidekick Sparx, features various robotic bugs as enemies. The final boss is a giant (from Sparx's perspective) mechanical centipede.
  • Star Fox: A number of enemies across the games are these, most notably the Aparoids, which are an entire race of mechanical insects out to assimilate all life in the Lylat System.
  • Stellaris: With the Synthetic Dawn expansion, each major species archetype (mammalian, fungoid, etc.) will build robots loosely themed after themselves. As such, the insectoid model resembles a floating, mechanical arthropod. However, the plantoid and necroid models also use arthropod-like forms, standing on multiple legs.
  • Super Mario Odyssey has Mechawiggler, which is a robotic version of Wiggler, a recurring caterpillar enemy in Super Mario Bros. series. It serves as the boss of the Metro Kingdom, and it absorbs the electricity of New Donk City from the lightning rod. During the battle, it fires a lot of electrical spheres at Mario and charges at him by warping through the portals. To destroy it, Mario must capture a nearby Sherm and use its cannonballs to depower all its segments and then shoot at it while it's vulnerable.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles: A few of the various types of Mechon have very bug-like appearances, such as the M42 Scout Units or the M91/DOGMA

    Western Animation 
  • Action Man (2000): Dr. X has the Trilobugs; mechanical insects that can be used for various purposes, like spying on his enemies, hacking computers or (when in large enough numbers) attacking opponents. Dr. X. later also introduces a microscopic variation of the bugs called Nano-Trilobugs, which can infect and control electronic systems, or even infect people. And in the episode "Search and Destroy", X builds a large, heavily weaponized version specifically for tracking down and killing Action Man.
  • Aladdin: The Series: The villain Mechanicles builds Clock Punk robot insects to help in commiting his crimes.
  • Justice League Unlimited introduced the Dark Heart, an invasive nanite swarm super weapon whose drones took the form of robotic insects as they worked to consume all available resources of a planet.
  • My Life as a Teenage Robot: The Cluster are a race of humanoid robots with insect-like characteristics. Their queen, Vexus, is designed after beetles with wings on her back, antennae and serves a the "Hive Queen" of her race. At least until her daughter, Vega, overthrows her.
  • Rollbots: The Spiderbots are spider themed and very large rollbots which desire to wage war with the inhabitants of Flip City. The series' Big Bad is a spiderbot named Vertex.
  • Samurai Jack: Aku's primary Mooks, the Beetle-Drones are bug-like hordes of robots initially designed after Hercules beetles, and in Season 5, after stag beetles, later on, large mantis variants named Mantoids are seen. Many other robo-bugs appear in the series, though usually they seem organic until a Robotic Reveal (mainly due to censorship laws). A benevolent bug-like robot, Chitron 6 appears in Episode XLVII but is killed by Aku.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Spy-Roach starts out as a cockroach that Donatello attached cameras to. After getting exposed to mutagen it transforms into a cockroach Hollywood Cyborg.
  • Totally Spies!: In "Spies Vs. Spies", the protagonists end up tied in a giant web made by a large spider robot, which then crawls over them and sprays them with a liquid material which hardens into a cocoon.
  • Transformers: Prime:
    • While she lacks an outright beast form like Blackarachnia and the Insecticons, Airachnid has a very noticeable spider motif, from her additional legs right down to the webs she uses.
    • The Prime incarnation of the Insecticons reinvents them as a swarm of hulking, insectoid bruisers that transform into equally gigantic mechanical rhinoceros beetles.
  • Wakfu: Noxines used by Noximilien to harvest the titular Life Energy and surveil the protagonists.


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