The Antlion is a voracious insectoid creature of several differing castes, with a hierarchy very similar to that of ants.
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 castes/genus and types, five of which have been showcased so far:
- The Antlion Soldier, which is the most commonly found. (Its name is unofficial; it was chosen on the wiki to easily differentiate it from the others.)
- The Antlion Grub, the larvae (not a caste).
- The Antlion Worker, which works in nests and protects the Antlion Grubs.
- The Antlion Guard, a taller caste.
- The Antlion Guardian, Guard variant ruling the nests.
Behavior and skills
- The Antlion Soldier is the most seen caste of the larger society, and is largely found along the Coast.
- The Antlion society is mostly kept hidden in fiercely defended underground nests, such as the one installed within and around the Victory Mine. Along the Coast can be found many Antlion mounds or hills, from which escape hissing sounds, always a hint of an Antlion presence in the area. As seen in the Outlands, these mounds are all connected to a larger network of colonies and may serve for ventilation. They are similar to real-world termite mounds.
- It is not clear how Antlions breed; a Rebel is heard referring to a "spawning season" at the beginning of the Half-Life 2 chapter Highway 17, but whether Antlions mate separately, have a queen / drone system or practice something completely alien to Earth sensibilities is unknown.
- Their young begin life as larvae in blue honeycombs similar to those of honeybees. As said by the Lone Vort, the extract of these larvae is highly prized by the Vortigaunts for its ability to "dissolves the false veils that divide the Vortessence" when imbibed; this seems to augment their natural powers, turning them into a state very similar to that seen at the beginning of Episode One. In this state, they are able to heal severely wounded persons, such as Alyx Vance in the Victory Mine, after she was heavily wounded by a Hunter. The track "Nectarium" from the Episode Two soundtrack refers to this larval extract, and is heard when the Vortigaunt finds it within the mine.
- 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.
- Pheropods can be extracted from Antlion Guards by Vortigaunts and used to command Antlion Soldiers, since they are fooled by the scent into believing the holder is an Antlion Guard. This however doesn't work on other castes.
- While the Antlion tends to avoid water as it cannot swim, Antlion Soldiers and Workers can easily be drawn into it (for instance to preserve ammo), making them drown after struggling.
- Along the Coast, Antlion Soldiers and Guards are shown to burrow within the sand, waiting for a prey to show up and attack it without warning, similar to the Classic Headcrab. As they are blind, any vibration will startle them, this is why walking on the rocks only will keep them away.
- As said by the Lone Vort in Episode Two, Antlion husbandry was once a Vortigaunt ancestral practice overseen by Vortigaunt shepherds (for their larval extract or the aromatic Pheropods), possibly on the Vorts' actual homeworld, since no Xen creature is native from there.
- Since the Combine invasion of Earth and the beginning of the Portal Storms, the Antlions have established themselves on the planet, and swarm in the wild areas such as the Wasteland. Over time, their spread got so important that the Combine had to install a large network of thumpers along Highway 17 and around Nova Prospekt, emitting particular vibrations the Antlion dislikes, thus keeping it away. When these were shut down by Gordon Freeman's activities, Nova Prospekt was quickly overrun by Antlions, with chaotic results. After the destruction of the Citadel, the Combine's defense field, powered by the skyscraper, collapsed, allowing Antlions also to enter the City.
Behind the scenes
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 brought back in Episode Two.
The Antlion (scientific name Myrmeleontidae) is an actual insect notable for its hunting technique. It digs a small cone-shaped hole in the sand, and waits for a prey to come. Other insects that have fallen into the trap are usually unable to escape because of the loose sand, and end up being consumed by the antlion.
The cut Antlion King.
The Antlion Grub.
The Antlion Soldier.
The Antlion Worker.
The Antlion Guard.
The Antlion Guardian.
List of appearances
|Castes||Antlion Grub · Antlion Guard · Antlion Guardian · Antlion Soldier · Antlion Worker|
|Other||Antlion Detector · Pheropods · Restrictor · Victory Mine|
|Castes (cut)||Antlion King|