Dirge moths are slightly larger than the average insect with an approximately 5" wing span. Their wings are jet black with swirling eyespots of violet, red, and blue. Feathery antennae sit over large ochre eyes that glow subtly. The probiscis is long and, instead of being straw-like, is hooked at the end with two small barbs.
Mysteriously lovely to look upon, dirge moths are far more fascinating than even their plumage might belie. The insects have evolved a natural telepathy, able to influence emotions in other creatures. They use this ability to gain access to their only food source: tears. While a creature sleeps, a hungry dirge moth will cast its telepathic gift on its prey. The creature's sleep will suddenly be fraught with terrible nightmares of vague and unsettling horror. The moth's prey is likely to go into night terrors, shaking and weeping while it sleeps. The moth then goes for the creature's eye and, like a butterfly to nectar, drinks in the tears with its probiscis. Dirge moths crave the salinity and apparently survive solely on these tears. While the moths rarely prey on humans, if trapped indoors or if its habitat is intruded upon, men are not immune to its effects.
The dirge moth life cycle is not unlike that of other long-lived insects. Eggs are laid in tall grasses or dense forests. After a brief gestation, the eggs hatch into larvae, black caterpillars with crimson spines. The tiny larvae eat grasses until they grow to about two inches. In their grown larval stage, they burrow into the ground and develop into hard-shelled pupae. After a seven-year hibernation, the pupae emerge as fully-grown dirge moths. It is not known if the pupal and larval forms of the moth have any telepathic functions, but the adult forms immidiately seek out tears. The adult form is short lived, only about two months, but their density - a result of their timed life cycle - does gain them some attention. The moths seek out mates during their short lives, feasting on tears during their waking nocturnal hours.
Because of their infrequency and eerie eating methods, dirge moths have attained an almost mythical status in communities where the moths frequent. During the moths' mating season, they are blamed for an increase in nightmares and irrational behavior. Adventurers who happen to be caught in a forest full of adult moths find they are plagued by horrible dreams and sore eyes - often without ever seeing the purpetrators. Some mages and scholars have suggested the buried pupae of the moths in their seven-year sleep can be tapped as a telepathic network, extending one's normal telepathy considerably. Whether this has ever been successfully attempted is unknown.
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? Responses (5)
Based loosely on this fella: http://cellar.org/iotd.php?threadid=12855
Unique critter indeed. Perhaps in times of great sorrow, a plague of these critters could arise.
After some consideration, I think it fits into the Bizarre Life-Forms Challenge codex. It is not terribly exciting, but it has that touch uniqueness; the uses have been already noted.
An okay submission coming from a good idea.
Do they hurt the eyes?
Hmm, this is cool. I had read the same news item (or one almost like it) and immediately started a new In Work. Of course, I never finished it, so I'm thrilled you did! I like val's thought here, some great tragedy unleashing a swarm of these creatures. They will drink your sorrows away!