In Aliens, how can a hive possibly survive? As far as I know, the xenomorphs' life cycle requires a host, but it apparently seems that in the movies/games/comics aliens have the single goal of wiping out the native species. Once they have successfully done this, how can they possibly reproduce without a host, for example, on Xenomorph Prime?

I do understand that the engineers created them as a biological weapon (as far as we know), so is it possible that they were never designed to survive, and were intended to just wipe out the native species and then die off?

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    They seem to only need the host for reproduction, not survival Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 16:06
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    That's an interesting hypothesis. It'd allow the Engineers to unleash a few Xenomorph queens on a planet and wait a few years to colonize the planet after all the Xenomorphs have died. Since the Engineers don't appear to have any special defenses against the Xenomorphs, this built-in killswitch would be very useful. Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 16:51
  • Wasps on Earth behave the same way as the Xenomorphs in Aliens so presumably in its natural environment the rate of reproduction of their hosts is higher than the kill/reproduction rate of the Xenomorphs just like wasps on Earth.
    – slebetman
    Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 17:29

4 Answers 4


In Alien, we saw a ship that contained no apparent xenomorphs aside from the facehugger cocoons. I believe this is exactly what happens when the Xenomorph population runs out of hosts.

As adults die off (assuming they can starve or die of age, neither of which I believe are confirmed), the colony will simply go dormant, relying upon suitable hosts finding the facehugger cocoons so that the cycle can begin again.

The pattern of parasites remaining dormant for long periods of time until a proper host is found is fairly common even in our ecology.

  • This is a weird thing that keeps being used in horror movies, zombies for example? there food source is also there only way of reproduction, they seem inherently doomed. Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 16:09
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    This is true of many MANY parasites.
    – Ashterothi
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 16:13
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    That actually applies to just about EVERY species: the size of the population is always restricted by the availability of food. The two general strategies are 1) reproduce at will, but have everything starve off and die once food becomes unavailable, or 2) stop reproducing once food becomes unavailable.
    – Beofett
    Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 16:15
  • Perhaps on certain Xenomorph colony's they could start using native species as cattle? or allowing a number of them to live to carry on reproducing? Commented Feb 22, 2013 at 16:22
  • In-universe, the Alien from "Alien" was already supposed to already be shutting down its systems when it cocooned in the lifeboat. That's why it wasn't up for a big fight and Ripley & Jones could win. But I can't rememeber the reference. Commented Apr 16, 2020 at 22:06

I don't think the Aliens are bright enough, intellectually, to think beyond their immediate food needs and to shift to raising hosts as cattle. While vicious, they seem to only display the most rudimentary ability to learn.

Some animals do evolve this behaviour as instinct (e.g. leafcutter ants and fungus). The Alien can't evolve this behaviour, since they were engineered for a purpose.

That being said, I've often considered their metabolism to be prodigiously efficient… I'd go so far as to call the entire species a perpetual motion machine.

  • What do you mean, "They cut the power"? How could they cut the power, man? They're animals! Commented Jul 14, 2015 at 10:23

acually in the book aliens omnibus volume 1 (at the end) and 2 also known as aliens genocide you can clearly see they have their own planet and have other life forms to keep them in check.

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    Then again, Aliens comics featured Earth infestation by Xenomorphs... It may or may not be considered canon. Commented Jan 20, 2014 at 7:12

One of the most recent Novels Aliens: Out of the Shadows (As little as it may be canon) does reflect on that the species can survive possibly for thousands of years in hibernation untill activity arounds them or the have awakens them. The fact that in Prometheus it's determined that this race is solely bred for possible extermination on a planet, pretty much will have little role of r a hive once it has wiped out everything and only becomes a dormant house untill the next victim falls prey in their vicinity. The hive can withstand most harsh environments just like its inhabitants making it only a halfway house for survival of this specie while keeping them within their own sustainable atmosphere and environment.

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