These insects, commonly known as Dragon's Teeth (also referred to as diggers or swatting flies) are a rare species that thrives in hot climates like the deserts of Oudnavi, a place believed to be their origin. Although the appearance of these insects is rare, the possibility of their presence fills Oudnavian citizens with dread as these creatures have an incredibly potent neurotoxin designed to incapacitate both threats and prey through sheer pain. Though not usually fatal, children, the ill, and the elderly could experience symptoms that provoke heart failure.
These bugs are usually two to four inches in length and live up to 15 years.
Anatomy and Life Cycle
The common name Dragon's Teeth reflects the general shape of the insect, which has a narrow, tube-like head attached to a triangular body. Two simple eyes, little more than photoreceptors which can distinguish light and dark, sit at the very end of the tube. A modified proboscis can be ejected with lighting speed from this head to deliver the crippling neurotoxin. This proboscis can also take in blood, which is its source of food. The tube is also adept at piercing the thick skin of cacti and other plants to harvest the water within.
The triangular body consists of a hard, chitinous shell, often in light colors to mimic sand, though black varieties have been found near mines, mimicking ash and dirt. These bugs appear to be descendants of beetles, as their shell opens at the back to display a pair of vestigial wings. Though these wings are too small to fly with, the bug often flutters them wildly as a warning sign to those foolish enough to approach.
A female Tooth lays anywhere from 20 to 100 eggs in one batch. She does this by burrowing deep into the ground and building a sort of makeshift nest of detritus (usually decaying plant matter and other bug carcasses) in which she will place them. This nest will provide the needed nutrients for the eggs to hatch and develop. Often, the larval young will eat any eggs they come across, so the first to hatch are much more likely to survive.
These bugs are considered rare because they spend much of their life underground. The larval stage, a wingless worm-like form, can feed on both decayed matter, soft organisms, and even gain nutrients from eating soil. This larval stage takes up about half of their lifespan, nearly eight years. In these eight years the bugs can tunnel far away from their original nest, searching for small organisms and dead matter to feed on.
At the end of the larval stage the Tooth builds a cocoon around itself. The pupa stage lasts for a few months, during which the Tooth undergoes a drastic change and emerges as the digger it is commonly recognized as. For the next 7 or so years, the Dragon's Tooth will search for food and mates. Often, Teeth will fight and kill each other if they meet in the wild, so mating is rare. Only when a female or male manages to incapacitate the other and mate with them, and the mate survives the toxin, do the eggs of the female get fertilized. This aggressive behavior is thought to be the reason the insect seems so rare.
The Kiss of Death
The Kiss of Death, also known as Demon Maker and Hell's Embrace, is a recreational drug derived from the venom of these insects. It is somewhat diluted and mixed with other chemical agents, but the experience is still incredibly painful: that's the appeal of it.