They set up shop in every major city, created a major marketing campaign, and then began aggressively recruiting drop-outs, the disaffected, and the deranged – just like any good cult!
—Harlequin regarding the Insect Spirits’ actions.

Insect spirits (also known as Invae) are a type of magical spirit. They are responsible for Chicago becoming Bug City in 2055. They are summoned by Insect Shamans who 'invest' a spirit into a living host, human or otherwise. They are categorized as either 'social' or 'solitary' spirits. The social category includes Ant Spirits, Termite Spirits, Wasp Spirits, Fly Spirits and Firefly Spirits. Their solitary counterparts include Roach Spirits, Cicada Spirits, Mantis Spirits, Beetle Spirits and Mosquito Spirits.

In the Third World and the Fourth Worlds the insect spirits were known as invae, and during the Third World era their attempted incursion in the area of Landis was defeated in the conflict known as the Invae Burnings.


When the barrier between planes becomes thin (at least one instance of which Lofwyr was witness to 9000 years ago), insect spirits reach out to the minds of shamans and manipulate them, offering unlimited power in exchange for the performance of the ritual that will allow more of their kind to be summoned to the physical plane. Should a shaman take an insect spirit as their totem (henceforth making them an Insect Shaman), they will inevitably decline into madness, eventually losing their humanity.

Characteristics and OriginsEdit

When an Insect Shaman is looking to start a hive or nest they must summon a great spirit of the spirit type they are aligned with. These great spirits become the 'Queen' or 'Mother' for the hive or nest and are responsible for investing force into hosts to make up the lesser ranks. Most hosts are involuntary and there are horrific side effects that come with being invested with such a spirit. Most end up a half spirit half host hybrid known as a 'flesh form' along with physical traits of the Spirit type- Mandibles, vestigial wings, extra limbs and insectoid eyes are frequent as the host becomes a gibbering slave for the hive mind. A small percent become what is known as a 'True Form' spirit- the host is killed and a perfect insect spirit is birthed on the astral plane. True form spirits are oftentimes warriors for their hive or nest.


In 2050, Brandon Cross investigates a circle of Mantid spirits whose hosts all graduated from Marianne Hills Academy, class of 2039.[1]

Jessica WattsEdit

Insect Spirits were summoned by Jessica Watts, who was the Insect Shaman of the Universal Brotherhood, the overarching antagonists of the game. The Insect Spirits make their first appearance when they emerged from the entrance of the hive within the Universal Brotherhood building just as the protagonist learned that Jessica was the mastermind behind Sam Watts' assassination by the Emerald City Ripper. The protagonists are then forced to flee with Mary-Louise when the bugs suddenly burst forth from their hosts.[2]

Similar deadly threats led to Project Aegis creating a weapon in the form of fluorescing astral bacteria that can kill the insects’ astral manifestation.

In the end, the protagonist succeeded in stopping Jessica and Lynne’s actions and the government became aware with the bugs’ existence. The protagonist gained his/her payment as promised by the late Sam Watts, Aegis Project has come to fruition, and the weapons developed by the Project are now used by the military to eradicate the surviving bugs.


  1. Into the Shadows "Plague of Demons"
  2. Shadowrun Returns