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For other uses, see Drone (Disambiguation).

Yanme'e (Turpis rex)
Biological information


Physical description

6'03" (190 cm) [1]


280 lb (127 kg) [1]

Skin color



Insectoid creatures with Beetle-like wings. They also have the ability to fly. Small fourth and third leg at the sides of its small abdomen.They have enough strength to carry humans.

Military and Political information

Covenant, later Covenant Loyalist

Other Nomenclature
  • Drone
  • Roach
  • Bug/Buggers
"Drones aren't brave; they're just incapable of feeling fear."
—'s description of Drones.

The Yanme'e (Latin Turpis rex, translated to "dishonorable king"[2]), also referred to by Humans as Drones, are a race of sentient, flight-capable insectoid warriors who make up part of the alien religious alliance known as the Covenant.

They are informally referred to by UNSC infantry as "buggers" or "drones". Although they have been part of the Covenant for some time, they have just recently been put to use as combatants in the war against the Humans. Their mastery of antigravity flight assistance has give them an almost insurmountable strategic advantage in combat.[3]



The Yanme'e are human sized, insectoid creatures that are covered in natural chitinous body armor, which affords them rather limited protection against modern weaponry. Yanme'e typically mount small antigravity devices on their exoskeleton to assist in flight[3]. It seems, like the other Covenant species, that Yanme'e share a ranking system from the colored plates of their exoskeletons. They do not interact with other species except to trade and serve in a military capacity[4] and their exact position in the Covenant Hierarchy is relatively unknown, although it is reasonable to believe that they are higher in rank than Grunts and Jackals, but lower in rank than Elites and Brutes. They are usually used as mechanical crews on ships when Engineers are not available, though they aren't as effective as the Engineers. In jealousy, they have even killed an Engineer named Lighter Than Some aboard the Covenant vessel Rapid Conversion when the Huragok was assigned all the drones' tasks. After the Covenant Civil War began, almost all of the Yanme'e took the side of the Covenant Loyalists. As the Yanme'e usefulness in combat grew, they likely replaced Elite Rangers in atmospheric combat conditions as they are much more suited to fly.

The Yanme'e are an eusocial species; meaning their society usually consists of a single reproductive queen, reproductive males and non-reproductive female workers and/or soldiers. Because of this, they can be extremely dogmatic and hive minded[5]; something that may have made for an easy conversion into the Covenant hierarchy. They were one of the newest races to join the Covenant. They are respected by the other Covenant for their natural intelligence, obedience, and technological skill. Their skills with technology have brought them into an often violent rivalry with the Huragok, as seen in Halo: Contact Harvest. While they have been in the Covenant for hundreds of years, for unknown reasons, they have not been seen in any major Covenant campaigns until the Battle of Earth, possibly because they did not have a combat role until that time, or simply because no human had managed to record their presence in earlier battles. The Yanme'e fought for the Covenant Loyalists during the Covenant Civil War. Some may possibly have joined the Separatists during or after the Civil War, although it is unknown if any actually did.

The Yanme'e joined the Covenant in the year 1112.[6] Much like the Grunts and Hunters, they are a conquered race that was forced into service by the Covenant. Despite this, unlike those other races, they remained with the Covenant Loyalist faction during the Covenant Civil War. They strictly follow the Covenant religion and obey any command without question, yet do not partake in social norms due to communication difficulties with other species. They view the Prophets as "Queens", a remnant of their former hive lifestyle. The Queens of the Drones have been described as "enormous" and had to be supported by multiple wingless Drone males. The Drones' language is a cacophony of high-pitched clicking or screeches from the rubbing of their waxy, leaf like wings[5]. They are also capable of making loud screeching "vocalizations" that is likely produced by forcing air through their respiratory system or by some other sound making organ.


Anatomy and Physiology

The Yanme'e are not true insects, as they do not share a common ancestry (as far as we know) with Terran life. The Yanme'e have segmented bodies supported by an exoskeleton, a hard outer covering made of what may be mostly chitin. It is not known for sure if the Yanme'e exoskeleton consists of true chitin, but considering its abundance in unrelated species on Earth it's certainly possible. In reality, pure chitin is actually leathery, rather than hard. Arthropods with hard exoskeletons combine calcium and chitin to make for a harder support structure.

Unlike insects, which have three body sections, or tagmata, the segments of the Yanme'e body are broken into five: a head, a cephalothorax, a thorax, a pelvis and an abdomen. The head supports a pair of sensory antennae and a pair of compound eyes. The mouth consists of sets of mandibles like those found on insects. The cephalothorax, or "neck", most likely houses what must be an enlarged brain. The thorax has a pair of segmented arms with razor sharp claws, and two pairs of wings; complete with beetle like wing covers. The first pair of legs are attached to a pelvis like structure, while the second pair is attached to the abdomen. The last set of limbs may help the Yanme'e latch onto surfaces, but otherwise appear vestigial.

Yanme'e exoskeletons are covered with multiple bumps, grooves, indentations and markings. Many of the markings may have evolved as camouflage. On close inspection these markings bear resemblance to a head. This is reminiscent of many Earth insect species that bear markings that confuse predators into attacking less vital parts of their anatomy.

Very little is known about Yanme'e internal anatomy, but one can make some educated inferences based on what has been witnessed in combat. Yanme'e blood appears a mix of green and Grey substances which implies they may have an open circulatory system like insects. The Yanme'e can live for a unknown amount of time in zero-gravity conditions, a strong argument against the open circulatory system. The Yanme'e are too large to rely entirely on the same type of trachea system found in insects; instead they may have some form of true lung system that delivers oxygen directly to the hemolymph, which in turn may carry copper containing hemocyannins (or something similar) instead of hemoglobin though they can do without atmosphere for an unknown though logically limited period of time. It is also possible that the Drones utilize special breathing gear in the vacuum of space, although this is unconfirmed.

There seem to be a number of different varieties, including copper[7], green, blue, silver, red, and gold. Drones have also shown variation in other characteristics than color, including differences in mandible, limb, and antennae structure.[8][9]. Whether these traits are indicative of different tasks or functions, or simply a result of genetic variation, is unknown. When the Drones sleep, they do so hanging upside down from the ceiling, similar to bats.

Social Behavior and Caste Structure

As mentioned before, the Yanme'e are a eusocial species. They live in colonies built around a single reproductive queen, wingless males, workers and soldiers. The following section will use the correct scientific terminology for eusocial insect castes, rather than the more common UNSC slang names given to this species.

The queen is the central figure of the hive. Her primary role, as with ants and bees, is to propagate the species. Being a sentient species, the queen likely serves as an absolute matriarchal leader, making her a queen in the literal sense as well. The queen has been described as being large with the distended, egg producing abdomen seen in queen termites. This extra bulk would likely limit the queen's mobility. It has been observed that her weight is supported by at least six wingless male drones. It is not likley that a single queen could support an entire species so there is likely multiple, though possible subordinate, queens.

  • Drones (Males)

These are drones in the true sense of the word. They are the reproductive male caste of the hive, like drone bees. The term "drone" is often incorrectly used for the worker caste of many eusocial species. Little is known about their appearance other than that they are wingless. To prevent inbreeding, the drones would have to come from an unrelated hive. It's likely that they have wings earlier in their lives so they can travel, but they are later lost or removed after mating with the queen. This behavior can be seen in ants and termites. Like the males of eusocial insects, they probably lack any natural weaponry and have enlarged eyes. The males probably exist for the sole purpose of fertilizing the queen, as well as caring for her and move her from place to place. The lack of wings may also render them "mute" as it seems the Yanme'e use their wings to communicate.[5]

  • Workers and Soldiers

As with many species of ants, there may not be a true division in the worker and soldier caste, but the two may simply be different sizes of worker. Most insect workers are biologically female, but incapable of reproduction. Within the worker/soldier caste, there appear to be many ranks. Minors are the most common form and have a very low (as low or lower than the grunts') position in Covenant society. Majors could represent a separate soldier caste: they have larger wings, fly faster, are more skilled in combat and often carry Needlers.

These are Drones that are unable to work in concert with the rest of the hive, and, in fact, have been known to go on the rampage and destroy nests, smash eggs, and murder their own species. They are generally imprisoned to prevent them from communicating with the rest of the populace and, on at least one known occasion, have been sent to mine helium-3 on planets captured by the Covenant. The Yanme'e in these penal colonies are often guarded and worked to death by Kig-Yar.


Though a sense of organization or leadership is usually unclear among swarms of attacking Yanme'e, rank structure can be surmised based on the color of a Drone's exoskeleton and the strength of its defensive armor. The reason for the association of color with strength and rank is unknown, but one possible theory is that it is based on age. Yanme'e, like many real-world insects, may grow by molting their skins. The color changes could occur after each molt, when the Drone becomes larger and stronger. Regular Drone infantry are composed of following ranks:

  • Green - Green Drones are the most common type of Yanme'e encountered and are by the far the weakest.
  • Blue - Blue Drones are moderately common on the battlefield but are slightly stronger than their green counterparts.
  • Silver - Silver Drones are both slightly more rare and more resistant to attack than blue Yanme'e.

Among these infantry ranks, an additional group of leader Drones have also been seen on the battlefield, utilizing Plasma Rifles and low-powered personal energy shields to make them more capable in combat. Only two of these leader varieties have been seen:

  • Gold - Gold Drones are adolescent leaders who have been rushed from their pupal stage. As a result, their abdomens glow brightly[10]. They occur in slightly less numbers than their red brethren.
  • Red - Red Drones represent the peak of the Yanme'e ranks. They are extremely capable warriors compared to the rest of their brothers and feature weak energy shields.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Almost nothing is known about the Yanme'e life cycle beyond the fact that the queen lays eggs. It's possible that the Yanme'e go through a complete metamorphosis including an egg, larva, pupae and adult stage, but it's equally possible they do not. It is known, however, that the Yanme'e life cycle does include some form of pupal stage, as in Halo 3: ODST pupal Drones are encountered. They are weaker than other varieties of Drone, and are notable for their bioluminescent carapace, which glows bright green and orange.


Little is known for certain about Yanme'e intelligence because of a lack of information. The communication barrier the Drones have with other species has not helped, and it is possible that even the other races of the Covenant do not understand them very well. It is known that they are able to feel jealousy; as seen when they killed Engineer Lighter Than Some because he usurped their role as technician on Rapid Conversion. In Halo: Evolutions, Unmutual Yanme'e are seen to be capable of independent thought and strategic planning. In the level Crow's Nest, Thel 'Vadam can be seen trying to convince individual Drones (while fighting them) to reject the Prophets' lies and rebel. Though the Halo 3 Campaign Scoring description of Drone Majors states that Drones are incapable of feeling fear. Numerous sources about the Drones, such as the Halo 3 Strategy Guide and ODST file on them, emphasize their intelligence. On the whole, the Drones seem to lack individuality because of their hive lifestyle. Despite their intelligence, Drones' instincts and societal conditioning supress creative thought and encourage total obedience to authority. No examples of Drone names have yet been discovered, which could be another sign of their lack of individuality.


Yanme'e are deployed in battle situations, such as aerial insertions, among the Covenant, and during the Covenant Civil War, the Covenant Loyalists. They, unlike all other types of Covenant, can fly without using technology (such as jet packs). They're used for surprise aerial ambushes and assaults, such as catching Human troops off guard and causing them to shoot upwards as a diversion so that their allies may attack on the ground. This is a common Covenant tactic that can be used to wipe out a whole squad of UNSC Marines.

In Halo 3, Yanme'e can be seen lifting UNSC Marines off the ground (Such as in Crow's Nest) to impressive heights despite their frail appearance. This likely shows that the strength of the Yanme'e in general is underestimated and that they can lift greater than their own body mass in flight for a short time.


Yanme'e generally build their hives into cavern ceilings deep underground, and they are able to build a fully functional hive within a single day. A defining characteristic of Yanme'e hives is that they radiate heat to their surroundings from vent-like openings, elevating the temperature in a large area.[11]


Main article: Palamok

The Yanme'e homeworld is Palamok, a planet much like Earth but twice the size with over twice the gravity (2.2G). It seems extremely unlikely that a flying pseudo-insectoid species could evolve on such a world, since they would likely be incapable of flying even in Earth's gravity (due to their heavy exoskeleton) if it were not for their antigravity generators. Some have proposed that their exoskeletons are hollow, with a lattice work of struts similar to the bones of birds. This is certainly likely, and would be a needed adaptation for such a large creature to fly in Earth's gravity (as well as to simply keep from collapsing under its weight) but it would simply not be enough to fly in 2.2Gs. Of course their antigravity technology would allow them to exist on Palamok, but this still begs to question as to how they evolved in the first place.

Rank Structure

Known Yanme'e Ranks
Minor · Major · Engineer
This section requires expansion.


An animation cut from Halo 3. (Click to View)
  • During concept stages for Halo 3, a Yanme'e was planned to have an animation where it carried off a Marine. This was cut from the final game.[12]
  • The multiplayer map Guardian has visual similarity to the description of the Drone's home world Palamok, and the sounds of Yanme'e can be heard in the background.
  • The nickname "buggers" is coincidentally the same name given to the Arachnids from Starship Troopers, and the Formic race in the Orson Scott Card novel Ender's Game. Additionally, the Drones' true name, Yanme'e, could be based on the Japanese 蜻蜓 (yanma), meaning "large dragonfly".
  • Although the Yanme'e have been a part of the Covenant since at least before 2525, they were, along with the Huragok, predominantly used as technicians on board vessels until their effectiveness in combat was discovered during the attacks on New Mombasa. Also, despite their primitive appearance and mentality, Drones are actually an advanced race, and had attained "Tier 4" on the Forerunner Technological Advancement Scale, prior to their joining the Covenant.
  • Flood infected Drones have not been seen, likely because a Drone has no basic skeleton upon which the Flood organism grafts its biomass into. However, the chitinous shells and liquid innards may be used as a source of biomass.
  • In Halo 2, if a Drone is shot and killed in a certain way, their wings will jut out from their coverings like they were about to take off similar to that of a swatted fly or mosquito. While shooting them in Halo 3 can also cause their wings to jut out, using melee seems to always cause this to occur.
  • The Drone is the only Covenant species not to appear in Halo Wars. Probably because they didn't fight twenty years prior to the Halo event, but were only mechanics, though this theory is doubtful, given that even the Engineers make an appearance in that game.
  • Drones are described as having a slight musty odor associated with them.[13]
  • A Drone is the symbol for the Halo 3: ODST achievement Data Hive, as that level features a large amount of contact and combat with drones.
  • In Halo 3, Drones are decorated with blue-gray trimmed Marathon symbols on their wings, presumably their antigravity generators.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Halo Encyclopedia, page 149
  2. HBO Forums Turpis means "dishonorable, disgraceful". Rex means "king".
  3. 3.0 3.1 Halo 2 instructional manual
  4. - Species Bio.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Halo: Contact Harvest
  6. Halo Encyclopedia p. 31
  7. Halo: Contact Harvest, pg.
  8. Halo 2
  9. Halo 3
  10. Halo 3: ODST Official Strategy Guide
  11. Halo 3: ODST level, Data Hive

See also

This article uses material from the "Yanme'e" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.


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