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"I saw... its thoughts. I saw what they're planning to do. They're like locusts. They're moving from planet to planet... their whole civilization. After they've consumed every natural resource they move on... and we're next."
Thomas Whitmore

The Harvesters are a race of highly intelligent and incredibly technologically advanced hive-mind extraterrestrial beings. They are a threat of universal proportions that seeks to harvest and destroy planets to refuel their ships, to grow, and to perfect their technology at the expense of driving indigenous races to extinction.


The Harvesters at war against their opposition for thousands of years.

In an unspecified time in the past, the Harvesters presented themselves as a threat to the universe itself. Their entire civilization invaded planets, exterminating all indigenous life and harvesting the planet's natural resources.

Among the many planets the Harvesters had invaded was a highly-advanced civilization of trans-sentient beings which they pushed to the brink of extinction. A single survivor of this race gathered other species and survivors from the worlds targeted by the Harvesters to form a coalition to oppose them.

For thousands of years, the Harvesters have been at war against this coalition and continues to remain at a stalemate, as the Harvesters could not locate their enemies' planet of origin. Due to this, the Harvesters attempt to hunt down a sapient artificial intelligence only known as the Sphere for its vital information on their enemies, especially for possessing the technology that could overcome the Harvesters.

Contact with Humanity[]

The first recorded interaction between humanity and the Harvesters was in 1947, when a spaceship crashed landed on the Foster Ranch outside of Roswell, New Mexico. In the crash, two aliens were killed, while a third was seriously injured. The crashed ship, the two bodies and the injured alien were brought to a U.S. Air Force installation outside of Rachel, Nevada called Homey Airport (later known as Area 51). The survivor died within a matter of weeks. Over the next forty-nine years, scientists at Area 51 studied the vessel and the alien corpses. However, none of the technology of the ship could be accessed.

Vietnam War veteran Russell Casse claimed to have been abducted and experimented on by the Harvesters in 1986. However, the veracity of these claims are debatable and as such, Casse was largely dismissed for suffering post-traumatic stress disorder.

War of 1996[]

On July 2, 1996, the Harvesters dispatched a mothership to Earth and began their invasion in what became known as the War of 1996. Arriving in massive, city-sized City Destroyers, the Harvesters used human satellites to relay signals between their vessels and coordinate their attacks, destroying nearly every major city in the world during their initial strike, including Moscow and Washington, D.C..

Crippled, but determined to resist the invaders, human forces worldwide began launching numerous battles against their newfound enemies, with disastrous results. However, almost by accident, a weakness was discovered by David Levinson on the morning of July 4th. Hijacking the alien signal, David devised a plan to upload a computer virus into the central computer of the Harvester mothership in orbit above Earth. In turn, this would deactivate the Harvesters' energy-shields and render their fleets vulnerable to attack, but only for a few minutes.

Flying to the mothership in the spaceship from the Roswell incident, Levinson and Captain Steven Hiller would successfully plant the virus and enable a massive coordinated attack against the Harvesters. Having also deployed a nuclear device on board the mothership, the duo was forced to make a quick and harrowing escape. Shortly afterward, the mothership was obliterated by the device, ensuring the disorientation and subsequent destruction of their fleets on Earth.[2]

Post-War of 1996[]

Although defeated, many Harvesters survived. Some managed to establish a level of resistance against humanity, but were ultimately either eliminated or captured by human forces. The remaining Harvesters were eliminated within days in the United States and Europe, but it took several months for the resistance in other countries to be eliminated due to a lack of air power. This proves especially true in the Congo, where the Harvester resistance fought for ten years before being eradicated.[3] However, prior to their defeat, the Harvesters sent a distress signal into deep space, warning the rest of the species of their failure. Having to traverse many light-years, the transmission was received in 2016. The remnants of the Harvesters on Earth were all eradicated by 2006.

War of 2016[]

"They're not screaming... They're celebrating!"
Dr. Brackish Okun

In July of 2016, the message was intercepted by the Sphere, which then traveled to Earth in an attempt to warn humanity of the impending attack. However, humanity mistook the alien A.I. for a hostile force and destroyed its vessel. Shortly after, the Harvesters led by their Queen arrived in a massive mothership. Despite humanity's use of reverse-engineered alien technology and their preparation for a second conflict, the Harvesters effortlessly destroyed humanity's defenses and made their attempt to harvest Earth's molten core while also becoming aware that the Sphere is present on the planet.

In a desperate move, the Earth Space Defense, led by David Levinson, devised a trap to kill the Harvester Queen by luring her with a duplicate of the Sphere's "radioactive signature" into a trap laid with a cold fusion bomb. However, the Queen survived the trap and personally attacked Area 51, where the Sphere was located. ESD forces managed to destroy the Queen's personal shields and allowed ESD pilots led by Dylan Hiller to kill the Queen. With the sudden loss of their Queen and severely disoriented, the Harvesters retreated from Earth. This defeat allowed humanity to win the Sphere's approval in choosing them to lead the resistance and to finally end the Harvesters once and for all.


Harvester pilot: "Peace? No peace."
Whitmore: "What is it you want us to do?"
Harvester pilot: "Die."
Harvester pilot explaining its species' intentions to President Whitmore.

The Harvesters operate as nomadic hive minds, traveling in large, technologically advanced spaceships capable of holding their entire civilization. They travel to selected planets, incapacitating indigenous populations that pose a threat, and completely harvesting the planet's resources until there is nothing left.

The Harvesters are shown to be completely merciless and single-minded in their conquests. They make no attempt to peacefully coexist with other lifeforms and instead prefer to destroy them.

The Harvesters, while similar to Earth's insect class in the Animal Kingdom, are not insects, yet still exist in eusociality. This complements Thomas Whitmore's description of comparing the aliens to locusts in the War of 1996 due to the aliens' swarm intelligence and structure with several castes, much like insect species. This caste system has, from top to bottom, Queens and soldiers.


The bodies of the Harvesters recovered from the Roswell incident.

Physically, the Harvesters are no more or less durable than humans, having similar tolerances to environmental conditions as humans and capable of breathing oxygen. However, they are much more slender in appearance than humans, with a quasi-humanoid body without their bio-suit. Somewhat shorter than humans, Harvesters are small, bluish-gray creatures, standing between 3 to 4 feet. They have two long arms and feet each with two digits. The rear section of their head is enlarged, and their face sported two large pupil-less reflective eyes.

Lacking vocal cords, Harvesters communicate by using a sophisticated form of telepathy which could be use to exert mind control to "possess" other beings, or at least partially; by attaching tentacles from their bio-suit to the victim's necks and using their vocal cords to communicate their words with a non-telepathic species. Despite this, they can still be heard uttering bestial roars, as demonstrated by the Harvester pilot when encountering Hiller and later when using Okun as a puppet.

In some cases, the Harvesters are also shown to be capable of projecting their thoughts into another lifeform's mind in the form of visions, and killing or injuring other lifeforms with their telepathy. The aftermath of the War of 1996 revealed that this direct mind-to-mind contact with humans leave a residual effect; in which humans share consciousness with the aliens, as shown by some humans (such as Dr. Brackish Okun, Thomas Whitmore and Dikembe Umbutu) having first-hand visions of the Harvesters.[3]

A neural connection with the Harvesters, presumably can be made through physical contact with an alien, or by suffering its own telepathic assaults. Some encounters result in lengthy comas, while others can pass briefly, leaving the host with a permanent connection to the alien hive mind. The hive mind seems to be activated when in close enough proximity to approaching alien entities, or if a telepathic pulse is being dispersed throughout the collective horde. Alien messages and specific dialogue can also be broadcast and intercepted through this connection. Despite this, humans with a connection to the hive mind cannot communicate back with telepathy because they do not have extra-sensory perception.


The Harvesters are an extremely advanced species in both terms of technology and sophistication. They have mastered the construction and operation of directed energy weapons, energy shields, and massive, gargantuan spacecraft. However, they are noted to have reached a plateau in which they have made no major advancements in at least decades, as their success rate has not necessitated them. As linear travel is inefficient, the aliens instead utilize wormholes to significantly decrease the duration of their journeys.

Their technology is both mechanical and biological in nature, hence their very organic appearance. In essence, their technology and material are 'grown' rather than manufactured.[3]

Armor and Protection[]

Due to their naturally frail physiology, the Harvesters enhance themselves by wearing large, armored bio-suits that significantly enhance their strength and make them extremely dangerous in a physical confrontation. These suits are equipped with large arms and legs, as well as a series of tentacles that are not only effective in combat, but also allow the aliens to take over the minds of their victims and speak for them.

A Queen's suit is also larger and more insectoid. It appears that the Queens may have provided some inspiration for the design of these suits due to their broader physical appearance that more closely resembles the suit. Although extremely durable to the extent that it compensates for their fragile nature, the bio-suits nonetheless are only capable of withstanding a direct blow to the "face" enough to merely knock them unconscious, as evidenced by the Harvester pilot when Hiller forced it to crash land, where he proceeded to punch it in the face and caused it to be left unconscious for several hours until it awoke in Area 51.


The aliens travel across space in massive motherships that are around 5,000 km in diameter. These massive ships are controlled by a Harvester Queen, the main individual of the alien species that can order the release of numerous motherships, which are still considerably large and measure approximately 400 km in diameter. Each ship has 83 City Destroyers, with a diameter of 25 kilometer. Many motherships exist, each commanded by a respective Queen. When one Queen is killed in action, her ship and fleet are called back to the horde of other Harvesters for a new Queen to take over.

Inside these massive ships exist vast ecosystems and even indigenous plant life. Harvester motherships provide entire ecosystems and use planetary cores for fuel. Their purpose is to extract a planet's core for means of refueling and growing Harvester technology.

As demonstrated in the War of 1996, the Harvesters' military tactics consist of large-scale attacks, destroying a planet's major cities simultaneously using the Destroyers, wiping out the indigenous military forces, and following afterward gathering its natural resources and drilling into the planet's core and harvesting its thermal energies. This act would neutralize the planet's magnetic field and thereby allowing solar radiation to incinerate the planet's surface. This was apparently the same process they would use every time they invade a habitable world.

No other Harvester ship was known to be in the vicinity of Earth during the War of 1996. The events of the War of 1996 suggest that the motherships may frequently function as independent agents in the invasion of planets as a first line of offense, with the primary goal being to eradicate any and all armed resistance on the planet. Additionally, one or more City Destroyers may serve as priming agents in the extraction of resources, such as the one City Destroyer that landed in the National Republic of Umbutu and began drilling.

This process could possibly be due to the overwhelming technological advantage of the aliens, who may usually not need to deploy a larger and more powerful solution to subdue a civilization, and instead deploy units in such a fashion so as to make invasion and resource extraction across large numbers of planets as efficient as possible. After the aliens were repelled in 1996 and the distress call was sent, the arrival of the much more massive Harvester mothership could be seen as an unusual "escalation" of an event that typically does not merit such a response, requiring the Harvester mothership to perform both the roles of offense and extraction.


Independence Day[]

ID4 Concept Art[]


Independence Day: Resurgence[]

IDR Concept Art[]



Behind the scenes[]

"The aliens are ambivalent about us. They're like a force of nature, like locusts that show up and destroy a farmer's crops. They aren't good or bad, they are simply a race that moves from planet to planet consuming resources: water, food, air. And we're the next stop. Humans beings are like bugs to them, mild annoyances, and they just want us exterminated. They just want us out of the way. They're the new tenants and they're moving in."
Dean Devlin[src]
  • The Harvesters/aliens were created by production designer Patrick Tatopoulos. Initially, Tatopoulos came up with two different designs for the aliens, one that was more fearsome looking and large, and another that was smaller and more frail; closer to a traditional alien design. Tatopoulos asked Roland Emmerich to pick which one he liked better. Emmerich liked both so much that he decided to use the first design as their protective bio-suits and the second design for the actual aliens themselves. This would provide the audience with a deception and surprise them when the actual appearance of the frail and tiny alien was revealed. It would also show that looks could be deceiving, as the aliens are far deadlier than they appear to be.[4] 
  • The alien vocal effects were voiced by Frank Welker and Gary A. Hecker.
  • K-Y Jelly was used to give the aliens a slimy appearance. It had to be applied to the alien prop several times during outdoor scenes because the intense heat in the Utah desert caused the jelly to evaporate in just a few minutes.[5]
  • A small statue of an Independence Day Harvester was seen in the 1998 movie Godzilla (also directed by Roland Emmerich), on the broadcast booth on Madison Square Garden.
  • In Independence Day, the Harvesters were portrayed by puppets. In Resurgence, they were portrayed by computer animation (likely due to the size of the queen being impractical to accomplish with practical effects), although some practical effects were employed, though later digitally touched up.
  • Although Harvesters have developed wormhole travel, they seem to lack superluminal communications. Because of this, it can be assumed that either the Harvester home world or their nearest controlled system is about 20 light-years from Earth, considering that the distress call took 20 years to reach Harvester space.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Independence Day: 20th Anniversary Edition booklet
  2. Independence Day
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Independence Day: Crucible
  4. The Making of Independence Day by Rachel Aberly & Volker Engel Aug. 1996, p. 86.
  5. Aberly and Engel 1996, p. 91