they got bugs in space

[Long description: Several turnarounds of a funky trilobite-platerodrilus-eryonid-lookin’ guy. She’s the size of a house, and is built like a tank to match. She sports 6 walkin’ legs and 2 pedipalps below her mouth, and her frontmost legs are heavily armored, with thick chitin plates. The pattern is repeated across the rest of her body, with broad, flattened plates extending down to her sinuous tail.

Her face is concealed by another huge, v-shaped plate, with each prong reaching outwards, like horns. Two circular “lenses” are etched into the plate where her eyes would be. They look kind of like goggles, or a knight’s visor. Her muzzle is plated chitin as well, and looks like a shark’s nose crossed with a turtle’s beak. When she opens her mouth, it’s revealed that she has a second set of jaws in her throat. These jaws resemble a squid or octopus beak.

There are some other doodles, too. Reyes picks up a chubby little baby version of the critter, which looks more like a typical trilobite. She smiles a deranged smile at it. Another doodle shows Reyes eating a breakfast burrito in front of the critter’s fully-grown form. The beastie delicately extracts individual pieces of ham from the burrito with her second set of jaws while Reyes isn’t looking.]

they got bugs in space

May 1, 2023

space with the bugs...

I’m already doing PR work for fungi, hiveminds, and parasites with the endeme, but what if i did PR for crop pest species too. I’m thinking about tyranids and zerglings and how they hold up a mirror to colonial settler fears. you are afraid of everything the eye can see being extracted by a foreign invader? of the very landscape around you becoming biologically, functionally, culturally, socially uniform? what if the terrible things i did to other people… happened 2 me….

The endeme keys into impaired ecosystems that are artificially kept in the first stages of succession, and that’s the reason it is monstrous and scary and ‘successful’ (like most weeds and pioneer species, it is not competitive and becomes second banana to whoever comes after it.) But I think it would be neat to meet it from the other end and play off of fungal and viral crop diseases. Maybe there are some funny little guys who are, like, not a big deal until you put a monoculture in front of them. Like normally there isn’t a giant interstellar bug in the sky, but you razed + converted an entire planet into its favorite food. what did you expect.

Anyway I think it would be funny if Earth had a cicada ‘nid horrible spacebug spawning event every 17 years or whatever, where the hive masses of the void return to their natal origin and eat all of their young and fuck and die and get eaten by their giant mom. They’re like salmon moving nutrients from the ocean to the continents, except they’re shuttling nutrients from the unfathomable beyond to different planets. And they can crawl onto land and eat all of your corn. You know how it is.

I think what happens is there’s a “larval” stage that spends most of its life as a detritivore, wiggling around in the dirt for 17 years. And then they have a mass emergence event that coincides with the “hive” forms returning from abroad to hunt and eat most of their young. In turn, they’re hunted and eaten by their larger, more predatory peers, climbing up and up the trophic chain until you make it back to The giant space bug herself.

I think this is like a summer gorging event crossed with a rare mineral pilgrimage for them. Fueling up for years and years of floating around in the abyss between worlds, and collecting rare vitamins while they’re at it.

The impact on Earthen flora and fauna is dramatic and mixed. The buggies are playing a really meta game of energetic monopoly, which has also been brewing underground for 17 years. So, their main objective is extracting their larvae + passing them up the chain as food to mom. But they are also looking for other things to eat. They prefer plants, algae, and fungi at the bottom of the trophic chain to critters at higher levels of the chain, because producers make up way more biomass and are doing more efficient energy transactions. They are also trying to minimize what’s basically mass bioaccumulation, which hivemom is *extremely* sensitive to. So, they’re actually quite picky about which individuals have the ‘honor’ of becoming food.

Some people think it’s more complicated than this, and that the hive is making complex land management decisions informed by things like carrying capacity, local extinction, replacement rates, succession, and so on, but that’s craaaaazy hahaha…. They would never develop such a sophisticated relationship with plants and animals…...... Unless?

Either way, this results in very patchy feeding pockets, where some forests might be nibbled down to the dirt, and others are untouched. This also means that most heterotrophs don’t really have anything to worry about during the spawning/eating frenzy. There’s a 7-ton centipede outside the house and she might cause the roof to cave in, but she mostly just wants to eat your potatoes.

Outsiders understandably view this as an apocalyptic feeding event, because oh my god every trophic level is usurped by bugs, and a non-negligible amount of organic matter IS being taken away by bug mom. But they also leave behind an equal mass of dead bugs, individuals who fall prey to the local flora and fauna, have reached the end of their lives, or were deemed “unfit” for intraspecies eating because they have, like, more than 0.3 micrograms of zinc in their body.

Obviously if you were planning on growing any kind of staple crop that year, good luck have fun. But typically their buggy leavings are enough to last other animals through the year while the plantlife recovers. It’s like a rare treat that comes around every 17 years.

All that to say Reyes ate nothing but forbidden lobster tails for several months when she was, like, 10, and she has been thirsting for them ever since.

reyes noshing on that forbidden lobster tail