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Bugbait view separate.jpg
Production information

Glandular sac

Technical specifications

No direct damage

Max ammo


Weapon category


Ammo type




Rate of fire




Used by
Game information


"I swear by the Pheropods myself."

Pheropods (portmanteau of "pheromone" and "pod"), commonly known as "Bugbait" among the Resistance, are glandular sacs[1] harvested from dead Antlion Guards and used to control Antlions.


Bugbait is 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, some Rebels (such as Laszlo and Sandy) are not lucky enough to safely reach the camp.

Possessing Pheropods prevents regular Antlions from attacking. Being blind and only using pheromones to identify other living beings, they are tricked by the scent into believing the holder is an Antlion Guard. However, Antlion Guards are unaffected by Pheropods; they are either not fooled, or react aggressively to an unfamiliar individual's scent in their territory.

The Pheropods are first introduced at the end of the Half-Life 2 chapter Sandtraps, where a Vortigaunt comes from the Vortigaunt Camp to harvest it from the Antlion Guard Gordon just killed. The Vortigaunt explains that "the process is not entirely hygienic" and advises Freeman to stand aside. Afterward 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 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 four Antlions to the player's position.
  • 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.
  • The Bugbait is primarily used in the last two maps of the chapter Sandtraps and the chapter Nova Prospekt. After that Freeman leaves Antlion grounds and the weapon is more or less useless for the rest of the game, although it can be used to stun Combine Soldiers for a few seconds, which may be useful on occasion.
  • 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 to proceed safely.

Behind the scenes[edit]

Early schematics of the Nova Prospekt yard contain a note saying "Infinite supply of Bugbait around corner", suggesting that ammo was originally going to be limited.

The Bugbait may have been initially intended to be used more often or for a longer period of time: the bug_swap console command allows the player to change their currently selected weapon to the Bugbait and back; a behavior identical to the phys_swap command for the Zero Point Energy Field Manipulator, bound to the "G" key by default.

The Bugbait was also planned to be included in Half-Life 2: Survivor's Battle mode, but was never finished and eventually got scrapped. It can only be obtained on the PC version by using the debug_equip_weapon 1 console command, but can not be used. The weapon uses the Spark Generator's models, however its own models are present in the game files and indicate that it would allow the players to spawn team-colored Antlions. Files related to the weapon were last modified on June 4, 2007,[2] suggesting that it might have been added in the 2.0 update.


  • When a Pheropod is thrown, it is destroyed and cannot be used again. Even so, Gordon's supply of them appears to be infinite.
  • Whether Antlions consider Gordon friend or foe appears to be determined by settings applying to the related levels themselves, not whether he possess any Bugbait 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.
  • 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 the Bugbait, regular Antlions are nowhere to be found, so it is unknown whether they can tell the difference between Freeman and a "real" Antlion Guard.
  • The Bugbait 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, even if he calls them by applying pressure to the Pheropod. However, if he throws the Pheropod, they will go wherever it hits, just as the game-supplied Antlions would. They will also attack enemies if they come into sight.
  • Oddly, when Gordon's weapons are confiscated at the citadel, the Pheropod is also destroyed, despite the pheropod's organic nature and that it isn't directly a weapon.


Half-Life 2: Survivor[edit]

List of appearances[edit]

Main games[edit]



  1. Half-Life 2 Prima Guide
  2. Half-Life 2: Survivor game files