The Tractators, of the genus Phenomenoptera, were insect-like in general appearance. Their backs were covered in oyster-coloured chitinous scales that glowed from within. Tractators had two long antennae on their head, which they used to control gravity, being able to influence material around them via low-intensity gravity waves. This power could be extended in the presence of other Tractators, as well as in properly made caverns. Tractator mucus was green and had a gravitic nature.
Tractators were unintelligent animals except in the presence of their leader, the Gravis, in a similar manner to a queen bee and a swarm. The Gravis could be identified by its darker skin, external nose and larger ears and was the only Tractator who could speak. It controlled the rest of the Tractators and if it was absent they would lose their focus and intelligence and return to their usual state. Without a Gravis to coordinate them, Tractators could only generate localised gravity fields. (TV: Frontios, AUDIO: The Hollows of Time)
The Tractators used scavenged machinery as well as parts of living beings to use as machines. On Frontios, they created an excavation machine that was powered by a human colonist through the use of their minds until they were burnt out. Polished walls help to amplify their power, and they could create a perfect ring of tunnels to construct a gravity motor. (TV: Frontios)
Millions of years later, a group of Tractators came to Frontios, and were stuck there. They waited for four hundred sixty years until a human ship came close to the planet. They made the ship crash using their gravity powers, then left them alone for ten years in order to rebuild. They used the asteroid belt in the Veruna system to attack and kill the humans to use their corpses in their machinery. This continued for thirty years, with few of the humans guessing the truth of the matter.
Eventually, the Fifth Doctor was caught near Frontios and was pulled in by the Tractators. While he tried to help the colonists, the Doctor's TARDIS was ripped apart by the Tractators. The Doctor went in search of the cause of the incident and encountered the Gravis. He managed to trick him into repairing the TARDIS while he was inside it, causing him to collapse from the effort and isolating him from the other Tractators. (TV: Frontios)