The Grey Bloodmoth is a common pest of the Nybelmar's Moredein Kaerath and the adjacent forests. Living off fresh blood of mammals and humans, this small nocturnal insect is more often than not the carrier of the infamous Green Fever disease.
The Bloodmoth is a small insect of almost two
nailsbreadth long, not
counting the feelers on its head. It has a hairy, grey body, and four wings in
the well-known butterfly shape. The main body is divided in three parts, like
most insects, namely the head, which includes the feelers and a very thin,
retractable tongue acting as a hollow needle. Then comes the chest, where both
wings and legs are attached, and the abdomen, which houses most of the internal
organs of the bug. The first, front wings are deep
barsa grey, and are the
largest, giving a maximum
spanwidth of four
nailsbreadth, while the second pair has a bright, blood red spot that is
only revealed in flight, or when the moth rapidly spreads his wings to scare off
an imminent attacker.
It sports two feather-like feelers on the top of its head. These are quite flexible, and might be used to hear with, although that has never been proven.
Territory. Grey Bloodmoths can be found all throughout the lands north of the Germon Doilth mountains in northwestern Nybelmar. They seem unable to survive the trek through the mountains which fortunately confines them to this relatively small section of the continent. As they are able to feed on both humans and animals, there are few areas without Bloodmoths, although they are more prolific around rivers, streams, and other wet areas, possibly due to the larger amount of suitable hosts found in such places.
Habitat/Behaviour. Like most moths, the Grey Bloodmoth rests during the day, and flies by night. It then hunts for any source of warm blood, be it animal or human, and will try to settle down and suck a small amount of blood with its stinger-shaped tongue, releasing a small dose of a numbing substance upon breaching the victim's skin. It needs to feed only once every two nights during the five to six months of its adult life. Once a satisfactory amount of blood has been stolen, the moth will fly away and find a safe and dark place to rest and digest the blood. The next night, the moth will fly out again, this time to seek a suitable mate. This cycle of feeding and searching for a partner is repeated until the moth finally dies.
Diet. Grey Bloodmoths eat only one thing; the blood of mammals and humans. Their larvae also feast on living flesh, but attempts to lay eggs on humans are rarely succesful. As mentioned before, the moth ideally feeds every other night, and will die if it cannot find a suitable prey for more than five consecutive nights.
Mating. On nights they do not require feeding, the Grey Bloodmoth will fly around looking for a mate. It is not known how they can sense each other's presence, but experiments have shown that female Bloodmoths can always find a male, whether light or dark, cold or warm. However, since only one male is available for every dozen or so females, and the male dies within hours after mating, it may take females months to find a suitable mate, and indeed, many never find one at all. Those that do mate however, start feeding nightly for almost two weeks, after which she will spend the remainder of her life laying up to three hundred eggs one by one, each covered with a sticky resin to attach it firmly to skin or fur of the intended host for the larvae. She neglects to eat or rest during this period, and when her eggs are spent, so is the moth, who dies shortly afterwards.
It takes only two full days for the eggs to hatch, and produce a minute, common looking grub. This larvae secretes a strong tranquilising substance from its skin, numbing the host animal completely on the pace it is resting, and will start to eat its way into the skin of the host. It will remain there for over eight months, feeding off blood and living tissue, meanwhile continuing to excrete the numbing fluid that makes most animal hosts oblivious to the parasite's presence. Once it is fully grown, at a length of about three nailsbreadths, the larvae will return to the surface of the skin again, and allow itself to fall to the ground. There it burrows itself again before shedding a layer of skin. Safely hidden inside this hard shell, it then slowly transforms into an adult moth over the next week and a half, after which it emerges again to seek a mate of its own.
Usages. The priests of the Morchini use Bloodmoth larvae extracted from tame animals to produce a strong tranquilising substance that makes the affected area completely senseless for about an hour after application to the skin or wound, making treatment of diseases and wounds much more comfortable. It can also be used in a solution which will induce drowsiness and loss of coordination in order to promote a restful sleep, but the dosage of this application is hard to determine correctly.
Myth/Lore. The Grey Bloodmoth is the carrier of the infamous Green Fever, a common disease in the area the moth inhabits. Since this disease is harmless in children but potentially lethal in adults, youth who have not caught the disease before their fifth year are purposely infected by their parents, who usually place a container with a trapped Bloodmoth on the child's skin until it has drawn blood.