According to Ender Canon, Mazer Rakham won a Second Formics Invasion by figuring out the pattern and finding and destroying the Bugger Queen's ship.

But as we find out later:

  • Formics' Queens can communicate with the "worker" buggers via philotic connections

  • This communication is instantaneous across any distance.

So, given this:

why was the invasion-commanding bugger Queen situated right there in Solar System where she could be destroyed in the first place?

I'd prefer an in-universe answer or at least an authoritative (e.g. from OSC) one, not a speculation.

UPDATE: Please note that "The Formics didn't realize that the queen was in any danger and thus needed to be protected" seems to be 100% wrong according to "Ender's Game":

Ender : "They make that ship move just like any other ship";

Mazer : "They know it's their weak point."

  • If the community feels that some of the question material is spoiler-y, feel free to edit appropriately. Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 4:32
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    If the claim that the buggers didn't know the queen was in danger is "100% " wrong, why was the queen even in the attacking fleet? Why wasn't she safely hidden on the other end of the solar system, instead of mixed in with all of the rest of her front-line ships?
    – Beofett
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 19:35
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    @Beofett - that is exact;y my question above. The queen should have either been heckovalot further, OR not protected at all, depending on whether they realized the threat or not. Half-assed "right there in danger but in unmarked ship that is hidden in the swarm" security through obscurity seems like the least logical thing. Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 10:17
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    "seems like the least logical" != "100% wrong"
    – Beofett
    Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 10:22
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    You're assuming that "normally" the queen's ship would stick out like a sore thumb, and assuming (like Mazer did) that it is an attempt at camouflage. While it does seem like your perception is likely correct, it is still an assumption, and nothing in canon that I recall states that that is true. Thus "100% wrong" is based on unproven assumptions. If you'd like to discuss the series further, I'd love to talk more in chat (I'll be available more Monday).
    – Beofett
    Commented Oct 30, 2011 at 10:34

7 Answers 7


I don't have the text with me right now, but one of the Enderverse books does mention it.

Anyway, the First Invasion didn't have a queen because, as you noted, it doesn't actually need to be close to its buggers. It was an exploratory fleet that discovered Earth and, while wiped out in the process, noticed that Earth was a pretty nice planet and if they just brought some more buggers along, it'd make a pretty nice colony.

So the Second Invasion comes along, and this one is a colony fleet (with appropriate ships designed for killing all the humans). Now, the buggers had never met intelligent life before, so they assumed that (1) it didn't really matter that they were killing individual humans, because the "queen" wasn't dying and (2) furthermore, because of that, the humans would obey the same rules of combat as the buggers (i.e. not kill queens).

Quote from Mazer in support of (2):

I know. That part I don't understand. Not that they didn't try to stop me - they were firing at me. But it's as if they really couldn't believe, until it was too late, that I would actually kill the queen. Maybe in their world, queens are never killed, only captured, only checkmated. I did something they didn't think an enemy would ever do.

So, according to Mazer, the buggers were under the impression that they weren't in danger from the humans anyway. In the sense that they didn't think it was possible for a queen to be deliberately killed.

Therefore, It didn't make sense to them to have the queen wait until all humanity was completely destroyed before coming along when she could just come with the rest of the fleet.

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    but once they realized humans WERE putting up a fight, why didn't the Queen ship move further away? Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 12:39
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    I'm sorry but this answer is 100% wrong according to the book. I'm quoting: Ender : "They make that ship move just like any other ship"; Mazer : "They know it's their weak point." Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 16:36
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    Just because Mazer makes a comment about the buggers doesn't make him right. The whole point is that it's a cultural difference inherent in both races that causes misunderstanding, and Ender is the only one to realize it. Who's to say the buggers have the same desire to glorify "queens" with big fancy ships as humans do?
    – JeremyKun
    Commented Oct 29, 2011 at 18:42
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    @DVK it might be that at that point in time it was beginning to dawn on the queen that she might be attacked, but that it hadn't earlier...
    – zipquincy
    Commented Oct 9, 2013 at 19:33
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    Indeed. At that point, the human fleet has started putting up some serious resistance. It must make sense to camouflage her ship
    – Valorum
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 22:22

The point of the "first invasion" was to search for a place to plant a colony. A process that was known to be risky.

The point of the second invasion was to plant a new colony. The queen aboard was near maturity, and needed a place to build a colony; had she not gone with, she'd have been too old by the time the colony space was secured, and would have had no real place to plant a viable colony at home.

The queen aboard was personally in charge of the colonial fleet; the other queens do not actually cooperate as much as avoid each other's efforts. Once the Young Queen was able to assert her control over the invasion forces, the invasion was, for all intents of the others, her problem alone. They supported her in as much as her success would have opened a new system up for other young queens to be sent.

  • This answers why there weren't other Queens at the second invasion, but doesn't answer why the main Queen was there to begin with.
    – Möoz
    Commented Dec 5, 2016 at 4:11

The Buggers communicate instantly, but they do not travel instantly. It's a long voyage to earth and the point was to establish her colony. It was the queens tactic to keep her fleet at full strength, and to do that she chose not to subtract her ship from the fleet.

Mazer states that without killing the queen, humans were losing; but he states that he thinks it could have been relatively close - I think it was a loss of 2 to 3 that he states. No doubt he was brilliant, but others expected humans to lose by a wider margin, probably including the queen.

Nothing ever said that the queen was housed on Eros or anything besides this ship. It stands to reason that she had nowhere else to go besides her ship. Considering other life not intelligent is different from considering them not a threat.

She blended in because humans are dangerous and needed 100% of her fleet in order to have the best odds. Yet she didn't want their weakness to be obvious. That's good strategy. Removing a ship from a battle that you have a chance to lose is bad strategy. However, Mazer saw through it and defeated them. The buggers learn and will never expose such a weakness again.


First of all the Queen was present in the second invasion because the Formics wanted to setup a colony. Part of setting up the colony would be defending it from other invaders. Since the Queen is the only way to replenish the troop supply after the battle it makes sense that one would be handy. Otherwise the invasion force would have to large enough to wipe out the hostile lifeforms on Earth, and resist any incursions until the queen arrived.

Secondly, I disagree with the existing theories/interpretations on the movements of the queen and the disbelief that Mazer noticed. The formics obviously knew Earthlings had offensive capabilities because we defeated the First Invasion. As such it is prudent to camouflage their Queen. IMO this was mostly because the Queen's ability to immediately replenish the troop supply gives the new colony a better chance at success. Furthermore, it is always a good idea to execute military operations in a good military fashion.

The reason why the Queen shows shock/disbelief1 at Mazer's actions is because Mazer's actions showed that Earthlings had truly intelligent life. The Formics didn't really think any Earthlings had truly intelligent life. An analogy would be us wiping out an anthill. We know ants build cities, but we don't view them as equals. As such most humans aren't concerned with massacring ants. Imagine you were spraying an ant hill with poison and you see ants donning chemical suits and start launching barbs directly at the pupil of your eye. You would try to stop them but you're disbelief would affect your ability to act decisively. Mazer demonstrated his ability to analyze the movements of the formation, identify an anomaly, and perform a surgical strike to capitalize on that anomaly/weakness.

1: Manifested through the actions of the drones.

  • But Binwen killed a baby queen, so the theory of the Hive Queen being incredulous of humans killing a queen crumbles. Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 22:11
  • I don't recall Binwen. What book are they in?
    – Erik
    Commented Jun 16, 2017 at 23:36

Obviously, the Queen should be fairly close to the attacking force, in order to establish a colony as soon as possible. Leaving her several light years away would be impractical.

This leaves two options: have the Queen's ship inside the main force, or keep it slightly to the distance: say, somewhere inside Kuiper belt. However, the buggers knew nothing of human monitoring capabilities. For all they knew, humans might detect a small fleet in the distance, guess its purpose and capture the Queen without battling the main force. If the Queens could have a vague feeling of each other's position, the idea of splitting forces would seem even more dangerous.


The Queen was in the solar system because they honestly did not think that she would be killed. They had no way to listen to our television/ radio signals so they assumed Earth was empty. The queen would start producing more formics and a new queen to replace her before she became too old.

So to make it short the only reason the queen needed to be close to Earth was to land on the surface and create more Formics and a new queen. That's all.

Then they would send more ships and queens once all the infrastructure was set-up.

  • I don't think that this adds anything to this existing answer: scifi.stackexchange.com/a/6511/21267
    – Möoz
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 23:14
  • The question itself refutes "they honestly did not think that she would be killed"
    – Izkata
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 23:12
  • They knew Earth wasn't empty because the first invasion was repelled.
    – Erik
    Commented Nov 5, 2015 at 0:02

Maybe it was because the queen needed to be close enough to the battle to actually be able to see what was going on. The queens can communicate their intentions instantly to their workers, but maybe not vice-versa.

OSC says that the workers were more like appendiges of the queen than subordinates. He said they could transmit thoughts, but never said they could relay what their eyes were seeing.

So they could have had no observations/updates of their own to report back


thoughts/observations alone would not have provided enough rapidly changing tactical info.

Thus, the queen had to be able to see what was going on herself, or the workers had no such thoughts in the first place.

  • I am not sure this is supported by the canon. Do you have any quotes to support that queen could not 'see' what the subordinates saw? Commented Nov 13, 2013 at 11:38
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    I'm pretty sure it says explicitly that the buggers are their eyes and ears, like when he's talking about a raid on a transport where the buggers left the cameras on because they didn't know what they were
    – childcat15
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 10:36

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