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Pest Controller

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Maggie's spells are just generating quite the buzz.

When you think of Attack Animal, you'll probably think of something big and/or badass, such as wolves, or tigers, or even dragons. Some people, however, have a kick with using... a certain creepier kind of creature.

This trope is a Stock Superpower of manipulating pest animals like insects, arachnids, and rodents. The pest in question could be from little tiny life-eating bugs to more gigantic ones the size of buildings. Those who have this ability will often be portrayed as creepy themselves - they may be wicked, but they may just as often be just a decent, if quirky, fellow. Expect The Swarm and Zerg Rush to be their standard tactic.

Sometimes the controller doesn't only control insects but is also made of them, in which case this overlaps with The Worm That Walks. They may also be Friend to Bugs (especially for the insects version), but not always. It can also overlap with Speaks Fluent Animal, if the controller is capable of not only commanding the animals but also communicating with them in their own language. If the pest controller is a pest itself, Nice Mice is the most-common variation.


Subtrope of The Minion Master and Attack Animal. Super-Trope to Bee Bee Gun; bees are indeed among the most popular choice of insect, for many good reasons.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Get Backers has an entire race of this, the Kiryuudo race. They even have different "clans", where each clan controls different type of bugs (one clan controls spiders, one clan controls butterflies, and so on). They're the Arch Enemy of the Maryuudo race, who controls more traditional beasts.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Striker S: Lutecia Alpine can control insects on muliple levels, and even summon one as large as Kaiju monsters.
  • Naruto:
    • Shino and the Aburame clan allow chakra bugs to live inside their bodies while giving them control over said bugs. They mainly used the bugs to subdue their opponent quickly by sucking their chakra off their body.
    • One of the Sound Four, Kidomaru, can summon and control either a swarm of big spiders or a single Giant Spider.
  • Read or Die: Jean Henri Fabre's clone can control bees and other bugs. The giant grasshopper he rides is mechanical, but the smaller bugs seem to be normal, organic insects.
  • Black Cat: The Taoist Shiki uses multiple insect-related attacks, such as with moths, bees, and he can even ride on a giant dragonfly.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins: Friesia has the ability to control swarms of bugs.
  • Berserk: The Godhand member Conrad is capable of using plague-carrying rats.
  • Toriko: Tommyrod. For bonus disturbing points, he keeps the eggs of his insects inside his stomach and hatches them at will, vomiting them at the enemy. Yes, this includes even the enormous insectoid chimera abominations many times the size of a human.
  • My Hero Academia: Vigilantes, the spin-off Prequel to the original My Hero Academia, gives us Kuin Hachisuka. Her Quirk allows her to control a swarm of special bees that nest behind her eyepatch. However, if even a single one of them is injured/killed, she will get hit by a backlash. They're also convenient for spreading the Trigger at large. It is thanks to this ability that she manages to survive when Stendhal/ Stain finally gets sick and tired of her and tries to kill her.
  • Overlord: There are two characters with this power, the Pleiades Maid Entoma Vasilissa Zeta and Kyouhukou. The former has a wide variety of insect-related abilities, which include using insects as weapons, summoning giant spiders as support, and vomiting a giant swarm of flies to devour her foes, the latter mostly just controls an endless swarm of cockroaches. Both are also anthropoids themselves, Kyouhukou being a tiny humanoid roach, while Entoma is a spider person that uses other miscellaneous bugs to make herself appear human.
  • One of the first monsters One-Punch Man faces is a mosquito woman with the power to control a swarm of mosquitos. She powers herself up on blood and uses the swarm to suck every living thing around her dry.

    Card Games 
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • The Golgari Swarm of Ravnica can use their Green Mana powers to act as a more conventional form of The Beastmaster, but because they meld Green Mana with Black Mana, they are more associated with controlling Big Creepy-Crawlies and rats, due to those animals' associations with death and decay.
    • The nezumi Rat Men of Kamigawa have shamans who can control swarms of biting insects.

    Comic Books 
  • The Pitiful Human Lizard: Human-Lizard's colleague, the Majestic Rat, has an army of rats at his command.
  • Parodied with Squirrel Girl: she has the uncanny ability to control squirrels. It is actually rather powerful since she has defeated many super powered beings with it, most notably Doctor Doom.
  • The Movement: Jayden Revell aka the Mouse showed a closeness with rodents even as a baby, his parents were once horrified to find him sleeping soundly in his crib with rats. As he grew older, his learned to talk and control rats and mice.
  • The Batman villain Ratcatcher, who trains and controls rats.
  • PS238 has The Flea, who can talk to, see and hear through, and control insects. He's also extremely good at it. If he weren't Fun Personified he'd probably be absolutely terrifying.
  • In Red Robin the Council of Spiders member "Sac" is covered in spiders which he can effortlessly control by the thousands to bite people or lay eggs inside of them to use for control of their host. Eggs which he can control to hatch at anytime before having the resulting spiders eat their way out of their host en mass.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Wonder Woman (1942): The "Earthworm" is named for his lanky and wrinkled appearance, but the creatures he controls, like a more famous Gotham based villain who operates out of the sewers, are rats.
    • Wonder Woman (2011): Milan controls large swarms of flies, most of which live inside his body and are expelled through his mouth and empty eye sockets.

    Fan Works 
  • Wyvern: While Taylor gains Lung's shard and powers, he gained the ones she got in canon. He calls himself Inago, and controls vast swarms of insects and other vermin.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Enchanted: Giselle has a singing voice that can summon animals to aid her in housework chores ala Snow White. In the beautiful animated land of Andalasia, these animals are the sweet forest animals. In the real world of New York, these animals are cockroaches, pigeons, flies and rats.
  • In Phenomena, Jennifer Connelly has the power to control insects, and uses corpse flies to assist in a murder investigation.
  • Bruce Almighty has the eponymous character use his newly acquired "God-hood" to get revenge on a group of gang members who jumped him earlier in the film. When they refuse to apologize, he makes a monkey come out of the lead gang member's butt and spews a swarm of flies from his mouth, sending the others running away in panic.
  • Nosferatu: Count Orlok brings a cargo of plague rats with him to the hero's hometown. For extra creepiness, the rats are all packed into several coffins, just like their master travels in a coffin.
  • The Amazon priestess in Frankenstein Island is able to control spiders and snakes. She uses a pair of spiders to destroy a zombie during the final battle. Exactly how a pair of tarantulas could harm a zombie that—according to its creator—could only be stopped by being cut in half with a machine gun is not explained.

  • In PC Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, a dozen or so of the students at Tentir, the military college, can "bind" animals. One (Gari) can control insects, another can control small rodents (mice and rats).
  • The Cloak Society has Bug, a superhero fanboy with the power to telepathically control bugs, including for Animal Eye Spy. He also has a dragonfly named Zip, whom he adopted as a pet upon realizing that, for whatever reason, she's unusually intelligent and can link with him over longer distances.
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin is renowned for his Magic Music to enthrall rats. So much so that many similar characters found in other works are usually homages to him.
  • Ratman's Notebooks: Willard has a deep affinity for rats that he is able to command them to do his bidding. However, it is not total control as the rats tend to outright turn on him when they have a falling out with him.
  • In Thomas M. Disch's short "The Roaches," the main character discovered that she possessed the ability to telepathically communicate with and command cockroaches. Let's just say that it turned out to be not so good of a thing in the end...
  • In one Homer Price story, the town hires a pied piper type who uses a mechanical contraption to play the music in order to lead mice out of town. Homer and his friends decide to follow along and see what happens, but since Homer has all the kids stuff cotton in their ears so they won't hear the music. Despite this, when the adults see the piper with a gaggle of kids following behind they fear the worst.
  • In The Spiral Labyrinth, by Matthew Hughes, the Big Bad has an army of insects at its command. Under its control, they can even take down attacking dragons.
  • In the Marla Mason series, Somerset — a former chief sorcerer of Felport — had the power to control hordes of rats and pigeons. Marla calls this "vermomancy".
  • The Wheel of Time: Members of the Blue Ajah are taught a technique to summon swarms of insects. They can even specify the type. While this potentially has lots of uses, in the books it's only seen used for pranks.
  • Worm is a Web Serial Novel centred around Taylor, a teenager who can psychically command invertebrates, such as insects, arachnids, and crustaceans. She has lots of fine control over them, to the point where she can summon them unconsciously to aid her when under stress. Uses for the power include making a costume out of spider silk and threatening people with brown recluse spiders.
    • The sequel has Ratcatcher, who has well-trained rats. She doesn't have a superpower that lets her control them, but she may have had her psychology altered to make it easier to work with them (similar to Bitch in Worm).
  • Villains' Code: The aptly-named Pest Control, who can summon and control any species of insect, whether normal or meta, as long as he has studied them in at least some way. He has found some creative uses for regular insects, but with meta ones, he can do some real damage.
  • In Renegades Honey/Queen Bee has the ability to command various species of bees, wasps and hornets.
  • Coraline has Mr Bobo and his mice. He claims to be training them to perform, and he can apparently even command them to send messages to Coraline. His Bizarro Universe counterpart uses rats instead, and turns out to be made of rats.

    Live-Action TV 


    Mythology and Religion 
  • Beelzebub is literally the Lord of the Flies, and is attributed the power to both summon and dismiss pestilence and disease.
  • In the Book of Exodus, God brought forth frogs, lice, flies and locusts as four of the ten plagues of Egypt.

  • The Magnus Archives features Jane Prentiss, who emerges as the Big Bad of season 1. She (or the being using her body) commands masses of strange silver worms which infest more people and thus kill or enslave them. It is hinted that she may also control be able to control ordinary insects, spiders and other creepy-crawlies.

  • BIONICLE. There is a Kraata with the Insect Control ability. By extension, Makuta have this power as well.
  • In Teddy Scares, Hester Golem commands an army of roaches.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Druids and other spellcasters have long had access to spells that allow them to summon and direct swarms of insects and other pests.
    • The Vermin Lord subclass from the Book of Vile Darkness specializes in this trope.
    • A Fifth Edition Unearthed Arcana introduces the Swarmkeeper subclass for the Ranger, whose main draw is their ability to summon a swarm of fey that take the form of tiny beasts. While these don't necessarily have to be vermin (animals such as rabbits and foxes qualify from the class description), it does also grant access to the spells Giant Insect and Insect Plague, which don't appear on the Ranger's Spell list normally.
  • Pathfinder:
    • A number of spells allow characters to control arthropods and other vermin, such as repel vermin, swarmsense (summons an insect swarm whose senses the caster can use as their own), creeping doom (summons four swarms of biting, ground-bound arthropods), insect plague (summons a varying number of wasp swarms) and vomit swarm (which does exactly what it sounds like it does).
    • Azruverdas, giant beetles with human faces, can control vermin within their line of sight, although the creatures' low intelligence means that the commands need to be relatively direct — "go there", "come here", "attack that creature" and so on. The amount of vermin they can control at once is represented as equaling twice the azruverda's hit dice; in practice, this means they can control entire hordes of low-level pests or limited numbers of powerful monsters — such as, for instance, two purple worms at once. They also possess a number of magical abilities to aid them in doing this, such as the ability to summon swarms of wasps and spiders or to turn normal vermin gigantic.
    • Ancient black dragons get Insect Plague as a spell-like ability, allowing them to summon swarms of wasps.
    • Korir-kokembes are a type of dragon that hosts swarms of arthropods — either spiders, wasps or army ants — that live symbiotically in their gullets, which they can vomit forth to attack other creatures. They can also cast repel vermin, creeping doom and insect plague.
    • Nunos have a strong affinity for ants: the swarming insects never attack them, while the nunos themselves can control them as they please and make their homes within and beneath anthills.
    • Mites share a bond with vermin and can tame and control them, such as by controlling swarms of smaller vermin or using larger specimens as mounts.
    • The thriae Bee People can summon bees when in need of aid.
    • Swamp blights can summon and control swarms of insects, and are surrounded by a cloud of biting mosquitoes at all times.
    • Wihsaak sahkils, being living embodiments of entomophobia, can cast vomit swarm at will and are immune to damage or distraction by swarms.
    • Derghodaemons have three different spell-like abilities that summon swarms of insects, and are immune to damage from swarms themselves.
  • Warhammer: Clan Verms, a clan reviled even by other Skaven, shares a close affinity with insects, spiders and other tiny, crawling things, and is believed to have been responsible for creating several of the larger varieties known to exist.
  • Warhammer: Age of Sigmar: Drycha Hamadreth is able to command the swarms of centipede-esque squirmling spites that nest in her body to attack her enemies. She can also play host to the ravenous, beetle-like flitterfury spites that will attack anything, friend or foe, on their mistresses command.
  • The World of Darkness: In the both the Old and New World of Darkness game lines, many of the splats have powers that can allow them to control vermin. Vampires have the Animalism Discipline, werewolves and other shifters have Gifts, mages can use the Life Sphere, etc. Some of the splats even have a more intimate relationship with vermin, like the Nosferatu and Baali vampires, Ratkin wererats, Black Spiral Dancers werewolves, Fomors and Nephandi mages.

    Video Games 
  • Azure Striker Gunvolt: Stratos has this power, dubbed "Fly"... for all intents and purposes. The flies his body is made of are actually particles, but other trappings of this trope (such as Horror Hunger and what appears to be decaying flesh) apply. Of course, you'd never get that information in the game itself.
  • Castlevania: Abaddon is usually a grasshopper-like humanoid who commands swarms of locusts.
  • Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars has the Scrin, where the commanders can control some bug-like creatures such as Buzzers and Disintegrators.
  • Fallout 3 has the AntAgonizer, a woman with a comic supervillain-themed costume and personality who can controls giant ants to "terrorize" the nearby town (although it's actually more of a series of show fights against her nemesis, the Mechanist).
  • In Half-Life 2, after killing the antlion queen, a vortigant extracts a gland which lets you control her spawn. You then invade Nova Prospekt backed up by a Horde of Alien Locusts.
  • In Touhou, this is explicitly Wriggle Nightbug's ability. Somewhat justified, since Wriggle is a firefly youkai, and thus an insect herself.
  • Ghost Master: Buck was an Old Dog who have died along with his giant swarms of fleas. In the afterlife, they have reunited once again as ghosts, making ghostly Buck able to call for his ghostly fleas to swarm upon people to scare them.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: The Pain has the ability to control bees, using them to create copies of himself, deliver grenades, even assemble a gun out of bees.
  • Raidou Kuzunoha vs. King Abaddon: Members of the Tento Clan summon gigantic insects for boss fights. Their preferred method of assassination is using tiny luck locusts to steal someone's luck which results in them being killed in an unfortunate accident.
  • Warcraft III: Crypt Lords like Anub'Arak are giant bugs who can summon carrion beetles from corpses and a swarm of angry locusts to attack their enemies.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has Odalwa, the boss of the Woodfall Temple. Among his many abilities, he can summon swarms of moths and beetles to attack Link.
  • One of the more iconic abilities that Corvo from the game Dishonored can use is the ability to summon a swarm of rats to attack enemies.
  • Mortal Kombat X: D'vorah is a woman whose body is infested with symbiotic insect minions, mostly maggots. She is unharmed by them, but she can command them to take temporary residence in her defeated opponents. Also, they make kissing her very, very inadvisable.
  • Dofus: This is a power that the ecaflip race and especially Wakfu have. They can siphon HP from enemies using "fleeces"that can be as big as a hand.
  • Don't Starve: Webber can control a very large number of spiders, and he is also a spider himself!
  • BioShock: Using the Insect Swarm plasmid, you yourself can pull this off.
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: Marguerite Baker can generate and control swarms of mutated insects.
  • In South Park: The Fractured but Whole, Clyde Donovan's superhero alter ego Mosquito has the power to control, you guessed it, mosquitoes, via his Limit Break, "Pandemic Pestilence".
  • In Dark Souls III, the spell Gnaw and its stronger version Dorhys' Gnawing throw swarms of insects at the enemy that cause bleeding.
  • In Hyrule Warriors, self-styled "Bug Princess" Agitha can summon her insect friends to assist her in battle.
  • In the later part of A Plague Tale: Innocence, Hugo gains the ability to control the rats. This causes an Unexpected Gameplay Change, as from this point, instead of trying to keep away from the rats, you can use them to your advantage. In the Final Boss battle, the Big Bad Grand Inquisitor Vitalis controls the white rats.
  • Terraria has several items that allow you to employ vermins, from the Spider Staff which makes a number of spiders follow you and attack your enemies to the Honey Comb which summons bees to sting back at your enemies when you take damage.
  • Likewise, The Binding of Isaac has many consumables and powerups dedicated to summoning and controlling spiders and flies.
  • BlazBlue has Arakune, a black blob that Was Once a Man. Since he's mostly The Worm That Walks, his attacks usually involve a lot of bugs, even including a mechanic that fills up a gauge with certian attacks, and once it's full, he can temporarily summon even more bugs with his normal attacks.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The Powerpuff Girls episode "Insect Inside". The villain Roach Coach can control an army of cockroaches. Played with since Roach Coach is revealed to be a roach himself, controlling a robotic suit made to look like a man (the episode title is a bit of a give-away). His ability to control roaches has less to do with being a superpower, and more to do with being a charismatic leader.
  • Xiaolin Showdown has a two Sheng Gong Wu capable of facilitating this ability: the Tongue of Saiping, which allows the user to talk to animals and somewhat control them; and the Ju-Ju Flytrap, which allows the user to sic a swarm of flies or bees upon their opponent.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: The fake monster in "When The Cicada Calls" is able to control cicadas and is covered in a swarm as their disguise.
  • Ben 10 "Side Effects": While redeveloping a dilapidated residential area, the workers run afoul of Clancy, homeless man who can control bugs who taken up residence in one of the buildings to be demolished. When the building is destroyed in a fight with Ben, he vows revenge. He then tries to causie a nuclear meltdown, planning to survive the blast with an armor made of cockroaches. He is eventually defeated after being frozen by Heatblast (who was turned An Ice Person due to a cold) and his control over insects was disrupted by Max's homemade medicine. He later shows up as part of the Negative 10, somehow becoming an insect-human hybrid.
  • The Rat King from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tends to be depicted as having control over rats in some adaptations. In the first cartoon, he is initially capable of doing so via a flute ala The Pied Piper of Hamelin, and in later episodes he can do it psychically. In the 2003 and the 2012 cartoons, he is able to do so mentally from the start.
  • From an episode of Extreme Ghostbusters, there is the Piper, an homage to The Pied Piper of Hamelin, who is capable of controlling pesky ghosts via his music. Subverted however though since he is actually a ghost himself who was scamming people, and the pesky ghosts he was controlling were actually a part of him.
  • Confectioner Heinrich von Sugarbottom uses mind control juice injected via intelligent mosquitos to compel the local wildlife, including the visiting Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, to transplant cacao trees closer to his Incan temple cum secret base in the CDRR episode "Chocolate Chips."
  • Batman Beyond has Patrick Poundstone aka Ratboy from the episode, "Rats", who can control the giant rats that live below Gotham. He is a Stalker with a Crush to Dana Tan, Terry's Love Interest and kidnaps her. When she rebuffs him, he orders his rats to kill her but Batman manages to save her. Other people were not so lucky.
  • Grossology has two villains with this theme: Insectiva, who controls bugs of all kinds, and her sister-slash-bitter rival Arachnidia, who controls spiders.
  • DuckTales (2017): In "The Golden Armory of Cornelius Coot!", after being disowned by Ma Beagle Bigtime decides to prove himself by following Webby and the triplets in their quest to find the eponymous armory. He somehow bonds with and tames the spiders that infest the caves beneath Fort Duckberg, and briefly starts calling himself "Bugtime Beagle".

     Real Life 
  • In the modern military, as of 2010, bees are trained and used to search for explosives. It is only as of 2010 because at that moment a few corporations started to understand how to create bee hotels for that purpose.
    • Moths have also been proposed for this purpose— specifically sphinx moths, which have possibly the most acute sense of smell in the entire animal kingdom.
  • So-called "roborats" - laboratory rodents with implants that stimulate their brains' reward-centers to control their movements - have been developed for the purpose of exploring rubble of collapsed buildings after disasters. Equipped with remote cameras, such animals can probe through narrow crevices and scramble over debris to locate trapped survivors, guided by an operator/trainer like a living drone.

Video Example(s):


The Plague Of Flies

Following his resurrection, Imhotep is cursed to bring the Ten Plagues of Egypt with him. After assimilating the flesh of the unlucky Egyptologist, he unleashes the Plague of Flies on the heroes - and much of Cairo.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

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