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"I swear by the Pheropods myself!"

Pheropods, commonly known as "Bugbait" among the Resistance and in game files, are glandular sacs[1] featured in Half-Life 2. They are harvested from dead Antlion Guards to decieve and command Antlions.


Pheropods are naturally found inside the bodies of Antlion Guards, allowing them to exert control over lesser Antlions. They can be extracted and used by an individual to command Antlions in a similar fashion.

Pheropods are highly valued in Antlion infested areas, and some Resistance members stationed along the Coast travel considerable distances to reach the Vortigaunt Camp where supplies of it can be obtained, the risk being high enough for rebels to perish on the way.

Possessing Pheropods prevents regular Antlions from attacking. Being blind and only using pheromones to identify other living beings, they are fooled by the scent into believing the holder is an Antlion Guard. However, Antlion Guards can't be decieved.

The Pheropods are first introduced in the Half-Life 2 chapter Sandtraps, where a Vortigaunt comes from the Vortigaunt Camp to harvest it from the Antlion Guard Freeman has just defeated. The Vortigaunt explains that "the process is not entirely hygienic" and advises Freeman to stand aside. Afterwards they enter the camp where Freeman is trained the use of Pheropods, after which he proceeds to Nova Prospekt, a journey during which Pheropods will be very useful against Combine forces.


  • Pressing the primary fire button throws a Pheropod, while pressing secondary fire squeezes the Pheropod to summon nearby Antlions. Throwing a Pheropod at an object or location will cause it to splat and form a small cloud of pheromones, identifying it as a target. This can be used to command the Antlions to go to a specific place or attack a specific target, such as a Combine soldier or a Sentry Gun. When the Pheropod is squeezed, it will summon a maximum of four Antlions to the player's position.
  • Summoning antlions only works when there are active antlions or antlion spawn points in range and their path to reach the player is not blocked. Antlion spawn points include the sand in Sandtraps and holes in floors and ceilings of the Nova Prospekt prison.
  • Throwing a Pheropod at Combine soldiers will stun them temporarily, in addition to causing the Antlions to go to their position and attack them. The pheromones seem to be a severe irritant, causing guards to wave their hands in the air blindly. Oddly, this tactic doesn't work against civil protection units.
  • It is not required to throw a Pheropod directly at an enemy target, it can be thrown nearby and the Antlions will still be able to attack them.
  • The Pheropods are primarily used in the last two maps of the chapter Sandtraps and the chapter Nova Prospekt. After that, Freeman leaves Antlion grounds and its secondary ability becomes useless. However, its stun ability is still useful on occasion.
  • Using the Pheropod against Antlion guards in Nova Prospekt is not recommended as they can't be decieved.
  • When encountering Emplacement Guns or Combine Sentry Guns, hurling Pheropods in front of them may be used as a distraction for the two weapons, moving their attention from Gordon to the Antlions, allowing him to proceed safely.


  • When Gordon first obtains the Pheropod, there is only one in supply, and they are always destroyed when thrown. Even so, Gordon has an infinite supply.
  • Whether Antlions consider Gordon friend or foe appears to be determined by settings applying to the related levels themselves, not whether he possesses Pheropods or not, so even if cheats are used to get the Pheropods outside of the levels where he is supposed to have them, Antlions will still attack.
  • During chapters Sandtraps and Nova Prospekt, if a Rebel or a Vortigaunt is spawned through a console command, they will attack the Antlions. However, during the training in the Vortigaunt Camp, they ignore the Antlions.
  • It is safe to use another weapon while in the possession of the Pheropods, but there will still be a need to switch back to it to command Antlions.
  • Whenever Freeman encounters an Antlion Guard while in possession of Pheropods, regular Antlions are usually nowhere to be found, so it is unknown whether they can tell the difference between Freeman and a real Antlion Guard. However, if the player keeps the first encountered Antlion guard in Nova Prospekt (within the bathroom) alive, leave the area where the Antlions can spawn, and hurls a Pheropod at the Antlion guard, the Antlions will rush in but will not attack it. In fact, they will not attack either living being.
  • The Pheropods' viewmodel is far more detailed than the worldmodel.
  • Only Antlions supplied by the game will follow Gordon. That is to say, if one uses the console code npc_create npc_antlion, the Antlion will not follow Gordon. They will still follow if it is used to attack an enemy(i.e. Combine Soldier).
  • When Gordon's weapons are confiscated at the Citadel, the Pheropod is also destroyed.
  • Interestingly, in areas where Antlions can spawn, the Pheropod emits different sounds from locations where Antlions are not found.
  • The pheropod is in every Half Life 2 game, including the episodes, despite never being obtained in the Episodes. (This can be discovered through the cheat "impulse 101")
  • A direct hit to a Combine solider with the pheropod will make the soldier shake around as if it was on fire and ignore all enemies, making the pheropod somewhat usable even after the chapter Nova Prospekt


List of appearances


  1. Half-Life 2 Prima Guide