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Imagecat.png This article is about the species. For the most common subspecies, see Antlion Soldier.

"He won't last five minutes on foot. It's spawning season for the Antlions!"

The Antlion is a large, voracious insectoid species of several differing castes, with a hierarchy, appearance, and physiology very similar to that of ants and termites.


Antlions are social creatures living in large underground colonies. They are blind and use pheromones and vibrations to identify other living beings. They come in several types, some of which are separate castes. Five have been showcased so far:

Behavior and skills

An Antlion nest, with an antlion comb in the backround.

Antlion Soldiers are the most visible element of Antlion society, most of which is kept hidden in fiercely defended underground nests. It is not clear how Antlions breed; one resistance member is heard referring to a "spawning season" at the beginning of the Highway 17 chapter, but whether Antlions mate separately, have a queen/drone system or practice something completely alien to Earth sensibilities is not known. Their young begin life as larvae in blue honeycombs similar to those of bees.

The extract of these larvae is highly prized by the Vortigaunts for its ability to "divide the false veils of the vortessence" when imbibed. This seems to augment their natural powers. It should be noted that when they imbibe the extract, they glow purple and look very similar to how they did in the beginning of Episode One. It may be speculated that they were in this state when rescuing Gordon.

The larvae grow into large grubs, which are attended to and protected by Antlion Workers and Antlion Guardians. Within this system, common Antlions presumably serve as hunter-gatherers. Inside their nests, decomposed bodies of other creatures can often be discovered, trapped in the viscous silk the grubs produce as a food source, and some of their deepest chambers are pooled with blood. The grubs also produce a substance that possesses healing properties similar to those of a medkit.

Barnacles appear to be one of the few effective predators for Antlions, as they are commonly found in Antlion cave systems. The Antlions, being blind, are often unable to detect their 'tongues,' and as a result become easy meals. In addition, they also serve to deal with any invaders hiding in the water - as Barnacles often hang over pools of water.

They appear to be sensitive to strong vibrations, as they steer clear of Restrictors. For example, if a swarm of antlions is attacking a person (such as Gordon Freeman or a Combine Soldier) standing next to a deactivated restrictor, and then that person activates the restrictor, any nearby antlions will back away to the edge of the restrictor's effect radius. If that person leaves the effect radius, antlions will resume attacking.


Antlions were once farmed by Vortigaunts for their larval extract and a number of other purposes, possibly on their homeworld (no Xen creature is native from there[2]); the Victory Mine Vortigaunt states that Antlion husbandry was once their ancestral practice. Since the Combine invasion of Earth and the beginning of the Portal Storms, the Antlions have established themselves on Earth. They have obviously been very successful in doing so, that they may have caused the extinction of Earth's land fauna, (such as and including livestock and pets, as no such creatures are seen within the series). So widespread were the Antlions on Earth that the Combine acknowledged their presence as a threat and had to install a large network of Thumpers around Nova Prospekt, as well as a defense field around City 17. When these were shut down by Gordon Freeman's activities, both Nova Prospekt and City 17 were quickly overrun by Antlions, with chaotic results.

A different breed of Antlions, slower and more resistant, were present in the Quarantine Zone. The Combine extracted an orange substance from their bodies, presumably to be used to control the Xen infestation in the Zone.

Behind the scenes

  • Concept stages of the game had Antlions depicted as a patriarchal society, being led by Antlion Kings, as opposed to the matriarchal queen/drone system that many of Earth's eusocial insects have such as ants, bees, wasps, etc.
    • However, because this was in early stages of game development, and Antlion Kings are not present in the games, it is unclear how the Antlion social system actually works.
  • In the cut wasteland chapters of Half-Life 2, the player was to visit Antlion caves where they would meet the Antlion King and Antlion Grubs, among other enemies. This idea was to a certain extent brought back in Episode Two with the Antlion Guardian taking its place.


  • The Antlion (scientific name Myrmeleontidae) is an actual insect; strictly speaking, the term Antlion applies to its larval form, which does somewhat resemble the Antlion Grub.
  • The Soldier and Worker Antlions cannot swim, and because they are blind, they cannot avoid going into the water, once they are deep enough they will thrash around in vain for a few seconds before drowning. If the drowning Antlion is punted onto dry land by the Gravity Gun, they will continue to thrash around and eventually drown on land.
  • The Soldier, Grub, and Worker Antlions are one of the few living things affected by the Gravity Gun (the other ones being the Headcrabs). When punted, the soldiers and workers will flip upside down and any damage they receive will be doubled. The grubs die instantly upon being punted.
  • The name Antlion can also be a play on words; with the "ant" part referring to its behaviour and hierarchy and the "lion" part referring to its size, which is similarly sized to a lion.
  • Russell often refers to Antlions as leggies, unaware of their real name until Alyx tells him later.


Retail Antlions

Cut Antlions


List of appearances


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External links