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Antlion Soldiers are the primary defensive Antlion caste, and one of the most commonly seen varieties to be found on Earth. It is the first variety to be met by Gordon Freeman, during his trip along the Coast.
The Antlion Soldier is a four-legged insectoid creature around 3 to 5 feet in height and 6 feet in length. Their legs are arranged oddly, with their back legs set at their front, and vice versa. Their hard shells are mostly green with stripes of tan, yellow, purple and red. They have no visible eyes, and have three mouth-parts arranged in a triangle on their face. Hidden beneath the Antlions' shells are wings which allow it to fly several feet in the air, making a loud buzzing noise as they take to the air. They are also quite powerful burrowers, able to tunnel through solid rock and even concrete.
Antlion Soldiers are charged with gathering food for their nests, using their keen senses of touch and smell to track their prey. Once they pinpoint a potential meal, they swarm the target relentlessly, biting and head-butting their prey until dead, after which they return to their nests with their kill to feed their hungry brood.
Antlion Soldiers found in the Quarantine Zone have brown shells and glowing orange legs and abdomen. Their shells are resistant to bullets. Their legs can be dismembered, forcing the Antlion to use its wings for balance and expose its abdomen, leaving it vulnerable for attacks. They move slower than their green counterparts.
Behavior and skills
Antlions are vicious pack predators. Their favored method of accosting prey is to bury themselves in soft sand, sense for vibrations around them, then emerge and ambush the intruder. They usually form swarms so large that even a well-armed opponent will be quickly overwhelmed. Although they are blind they are extremely sensitive to vibration, which allows them to follow their enemies wherever they go once detected. This sensitivity can be turned against them; Thumpers, machines which pound the ground rhythmically, overload their senses causing them discomfort and preventing them from advancing on prey near them.
Antlions attack with their sharp claws and teeth. Those fleeing on foot or seeking higher ground will find no sanctuary from them; they will fly at opponents above or a distance away from them. They will fearlessly attack and pursue their target regardless of hazards they are faced with, and will continue charging even as fellow Antlions die in front of them. This includes charging into moving vehicles and into water, despite the fact they cannot swim. Antlions are both fiercely territorial and invasive. They will sweep into neighboring territory if it is not properly protected.
Common Antlions seem to defer overall leadership to Antlion Guards, who direct them through the use of pheromones. Harvesting Pheropods (through an unhygienic extraction method practiced by Vortigaunts) from the body of an Antlion Guard will allow a user to control the common Antlions. Users can command Antlions to follow by squeezing the pod. The user can also make Antlions move to a certain spot by throwing the pod to that spot. The user has an unlimited number of Pheropods. Note that these pods do not work on Antlion Guards or Guardians.
Antlions make excellent shock troops, once a pod is thrown, the Antlions will charge at an incredible speed and attack whoever is in the immediate vicinity of where the pod landed. The Antlions can kill Combine Soldiers in one hit, and seem to be able to take more punishment than those not directed through the use of a pheropod. Any Antlion killed will quickly respawn, even when there are no burrows around. The Antlions are also useful when trying to save ammunition, for using the pheropod does not require ammunition to use, the only negative side effect of it is not being useful when there are no Antlions around.
Antlions are generally easy to kill, but are almost always encountered in numbers of three or more. Often once one has been killed, another will emerge from sand or a burrow. Antlion burrows can be blocked with large objects such as cars.
The best way to kill Antlions is from a distance, as their melee attacks are quite powerful, and will cause the player to flinch, making their weapon aim awry.
Antlions are commonly encountered along with Zombies, who, if left alone, will attempt to kill each other. Therefore a strategy here can be to wait for one to kill the other making the entire fight easier, similar to the Half-Life strategy of sitting out of fights between the HECU and the Aliens.
Antlions can be knocked over with the Gravity Gun, exposing their more vulnerable undersides, a fact the player can take advantage of by switching to a secondary weapon to finish them off. It is possible to kill an Antlion by punting them repeatedly with the gravity gun, but it takes many hits and is not a practical form of attack. Although when, for example, moving a car to block an Antlion burrow, the Gravity Gun can be used to keep distance between the player and them.
If the player has Pheropods, they can control Antlions. If trouble is met through an area guarded with Sentry Guns or Soldiers, Antlions can be used as a distraction. Antlions make very good area testers. Pheropods can be thrown ahead if an area is probably dangerous, and Antlions will often run straight through laser tripwires too.
Antlions in Episode Two are generally not infinite in number, as was the case in Half-Life 2 and Episode One. Stepping on their Grubs will not summon them, as was suggested in press releases - Valve removed the feature believing it would make the game (and the achievement for stepping on all 333 grubs) too hard and that the Antlion Grub's health nugget mechanic rarely be beneficial.
Antlions will drown if lured into water by the player. This is useful when they are first encountered, and especially in Episode Two, when the player is wandering through an Antlion nest. Using the Gravity Gun will make this easier
In Half-Life: Alyx, the Antlions have to be dismembered in order to be killed, as their shells are immune to bullets. They can be killed by shooting their abdomen.
Behind the scenes
The original Antlion skin was orange and had butterfly-like spots on its wings.
The name "Antlion Soldier" used on the wiki is not given in any official source; it was merely chosen to easily differentiate the common Antlion to the others, based on the similarities with the names given to the different real world ant classes and their related purposes.
In the Beta version, the player could summon many Antlions with the Bugbait as long as he could wait. This has been scrapped in the retail version and the maximum number of Antlions is now four.
Help Griggs and Sheckley hold off the Antlion invasion inside the mine shaft.
The Antlion Soldier characteristic of sensing prey via vibrations through the ground is reminiscent of other fictional creature's characteristics, such as the Sandworm from the Dune series and the Graboid from the Tremors film series.
The appearance of Antlion Soldiers bear a strong resemblance to the Warrior Bug from the Starship Troopers film series.
Antlion Soldiers are coded to kill Combine Soldiers in one hit. This is not true for Metrocops, Resistance Fighters, Vortigaunts or Zombies, since Antlions were not intended to appear in the same locations as the latter.
The Antlions are possibly derived from the real world Antlion. The little creature digs a small cone-shaped hole in the ground, when an insect falls into the hole he is trapped inside because of its shape. The Antlion then eats the insect and flings the carcass out. The Antlions in Half-Life 2 are based on the second "stage" in Antlions life, in which it can fly and mate, but doesn't live for very long.
Unlike other NPCs, if the player detonates a gas can or uses a console command to ignite an Antlion, it will die instantly. However, the fire will not appear on its body.
Also, if an Antlion lands on another Antlion, the one who gets crushed will die. Otherwise the one above will flip.
Some parts of City 17 and Ravenholm have posters that show Antlion Soldiers on them.