THE SQUELCHBUG BUTTERFLY ("JUICEBUG", "JAMBUG", "JELLYBUG")

APPEARANCE - SPECIAL ABILITIES - TERRITORY
HABITAT/BEHAVIOUR - DIET - MATING - USAGES - MYTH/LORE

The Squelchbug is quite the fat, bumbling butterfly. It loves very sweet flowers and tends to reproduce at a bit of an alarming rate, perhaps because it is such a tasty treat. Its delicious juice can be squeezed harmlessly out of the big bright red or yellow backside, and immediately consumed. Being very friendly and social little critters, it is pretty easy to catch one in order to be eaten, sipped or 'farmedi'. Because of their habit of staying in the shade, disliking to be in direct sunlight, they are a refreshing, cool treat on hotter days.

Appearance. The Squelchbug, also known as the "Juicefly" or the "Jellyfly", is a jolly looking and brightly coloured butterfly. Very plump, you could imagine that this bug sloshes as it moves around. Its own plumpness causes it to be a bit clumsy and, as it grows fuller with juice, it becomes more difficult for this bug to achieve flight for very long without a good breeze to carry it. The wingspan of the average Squelchbug is approximately eight to twelve nailsbreadths wide.

Though chubby towards outward appearances, the butterfly's back is filled with muscle in order to support and efficiently use their two very wide wings, one per side, which provide this insect with its ability to fly. The wings are shaped like two oblong circles stuck together. Regardless of the gender, the wings tend to be different shades of pink with dark green stripes slashing across them at random. And the edge of their otherwise simple wings are crested in a very short "fringe" that gets a bit longer towards the back of the wings.

The butterfly's head is black and ovalish with one large pink eye seated quite snugly on either side. With a slightly wide forehead, their face ends with what one could accurately call a "butt chin". A green proboscis, considerably longer than that of the average butterfly's, is kept curled up beneath their chin when they are young. However, as they grow older, they tend to let it hang more loosely and perhaps even carelessly.

Its short and squattish body is black, like the head, and is approximately two and a half nailsbreadths in length. The legs of this chubby insect are shorter than most butterflies, however are just as thin and able to support its weight as any others'. Though small, its round rear can become very ample in size.

The brightly coloured bum helps to indicate whether it's contents are sour or sweet, and whether it contains juice or jelly determines its age. Their bums can range from red to yellow in hue, being sweet and sour respectively. A juice filled bottoms belong to young butterflies, just born, whereas a jelly filled one tells of an older butterfly that has already laid its first batch of eggs.
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Special Abilities. The Squelchbug has quite a few alternative name, a few of which are attributed to its potential as a type of livestock for the Brownies of the Vale, and as a tasty little treat for anyone that may happen upon one ripe for the picking.

It has been found that when you squeeze the rear of one of these butterflies, it will squirt out an edible juice or jelly. When all of the contents has been expelled from the insect, the bum will become flat and steadily grow plump again as they consume food. That is, if you are careful enough to simply not crush the butterfly in the process.

The Squelchbug gets its two alternative names due to the very tasty juice/jelly that it produces in its bottom. The flavour of this product, it has been discovered, is influenced by the insect's diet. It also has been found that, should one of these butterfly's bums become too engorged, then it will simply burst, bringing about the insect's death while splattering the vicinity with dozens of eggs covered in tasty goop.

It is also interesting to know that this curious butterfly is of only one gender, all of which are capable of both fertilizing and laying their own eggs. However, it has been observed that while they are able to procreate without a partner, they still seem to prefer to mate with another Squelchbug rather than themselves. This gives them the ability to populate an area when there is no other butterfly to mate with, which very well may explain why their numbers seem to be unhindered by their tastiness.
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Territory. While the Squelchbug is only farmed in the Vale, it can be found in short-lived abundance throughout Rimmerins Ring and beyond. Their territory extends as far northwest as Ximax and as far southeast as the Auturian Woods.
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Habitat/Behaviour. This dumpy little butterfly is quite the social bug, for being so delicious and readily eaten by larger animals. It is thought that this attitude comes from the rate at which they can reproduce, which can be quite alarming. One particular act that they've been witnessed doing quite a lot is 'rolling' through the air as they fly as if drunk, probably due to being so back-end heavy. Because the butterfly does not like to go into direct sunlight if it can help it, staying in the shade at all time if it can help it, it tends to be surprisingly cool to the touch and tongue. As such, they are not only tasty, but delightfully refreshing on hot days.
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Diet. The gluttonous little Squelchbug loves to eat absolutely anything sweet, and does so for the entirety of its life. One of its favourites is the nectar that it devours from the Sweetsip vine's blossoms. Other flowers that this insect holds high on its dinner list are things such as the dalferia, the deadly nightshade flower, and blossoms from the rosemint bush. It has also been found that the yellow jellyfly has a particular penchant for lampstalk pollen, and can often be seen congregating where you would find these.
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Mating. For the Squelchbug, its search for something delicious to fill itself with begins immediately after it is free from its cocoon. The butterfly doesn't even wait for its wings to dry, steadily flapping them as they navigate towards the first flower that it can find. It is then that the insect's bottom first steadily begins filling up with juice as it digests its food which, you could say, seemingly goes right through it. It is only after two days of feeding that they will go in search of a mate.

Since this butterfly is of both genders, one might assume that any mate would do, or even no mate at all! Such is not the case, it would seem. While they are capable of fertilizing themselves if it comes to that, it does not seem to be preferable. Two aspects appear to matter as far as mate selection goes; how large and vividly coloured the other's bum is. Only the biggest and brightest of bums attract partners to swap-fertilize.

In the first year of their lives, these bugs will mate an upwards of three times. After mating, often the couple will journey together to find a bush to dig a hoe beneath. It is in this hole that they will lay their eggs, which they do by excreting the juice/jelly from their bottoms, flushing the eggs out with it. The older the butterfly, the harder this process become as the contents of their bums becomes thicker and thicker until it becomes impossible for them to release the contents at all, which will shortly lead to their timely demise when their backend explodes in a rain of goopy eggs.

The eggs are easily spotted in the puddle of goo that they are nestled in, being black and mildly teardrop shaped. A butterfly will lay clusters of eggs that range in numbers anywhere from fifty to one hundred. While it only takes an egg one week before it is ready to hatch, if it is not warm enough for the bug then it will hibernate until the conditions are right for it. The larvae that come out of the black, colourless egg is a dark brownish grey in colour. As they eat the leaves from the bushes that they are borne beneath, they grow large and bright pink and orange dots appear down either of its sides.

Eight days of gorging itself on the leaves and occasionally the bark or perhaps berries or flowers, if the bush has either of those, is long enough to fatten up this caterpillar to the point where it looks ready to burst. At this point, the caterpillar slowly crawls down out of the bush where it will burrow in the dirt below and molt its skin, which will harden and become its cocoon. In this casing, the insect is completely protected from the elements around it. Again, while gestation only takes approximately two weeks to complete, if the weather has become too cold or otherwise unfavourable, then the insect will hibernate and wait for warmth to come. Once free of its cocoon a fully formed butterfly, it will begin its search for food and begin the process anew.
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Usages. The Squelchbug is a delicious treat to come bumbling by in any place within its territory that is shaded. This behaviour lends them the coolness that makes them an extra desirable snack on hot summer days. Children out playing can be seen frolicking in fields and combing the flowers for these butterflies to get a quick little refresher. However, the manner of which they devour the bug differs from child to child. Some eat the entire critter, and say that the eggs add a crisp tang to the sweeter ones. While others merely squish the juice into their mouth before releasing the butterfly back to its flowers.

Most notably, this butterfly is farmed by the Brownies of the Vale regularly, who make sure that they never have to venture too far to find a flower to snack on. Squelchbug farming is an industry that was started up by Oorrett-Squelcher, who first tasted the juice from this insect's posterior when one dining nearby exploded on him with a loud, wet "pop!" Curiously, he tasted a bit of the brightly coloured goop that had just splattered itself all over him, and found it to be deliciously tart and sweetly tangy. He also invented all of the equipment required for obtaining, holding, and safely extracting the goop from its inflatable bum without harming or killing the insect.

Squelchbug Farming Process, The invention made to farm these jolly jellyflies is rather ingenius and harmlessly harvests the goodness in their bums. A harness is strapped around the body of the butterfly, avoiding it's wings. It is then walked to the device, where it is coaxed to lay down upon its belly so that it may be hooked to the ground as to hold the insect in place. The device consists of two cushioned wooden slabs and a crank. The butterfly's bum is placed between these slabs as one cranks it, which presses the slabs together incrementally until the jelly or juice is expelled, along with the unfertilized eggs. The eggs are then separated from the jelly and are stored in jars.
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Myth/Lore. There's a popular song around the Rimmerins area which goes like this:

The Squelchbug Song

"The Squelchbugs that fly in the spring, tra la,
Bring promise of jelly and jam,
For Brownies that harvest their juice, tra la,
And squeeze them before they go bam,
And squeeze them before they go bam.....

And that's why we stick and get gummed when we pick,
The bugs are so juicy and succulent-thick....

Sing tra la la la la, sing tra la la laaaaa.....
We'll drink them until we get sick!

Young 'uns and old 'uns alike, tra la,
Creep through the blossoming brush,
In search of the wonderful snacks, tra la,
Make every effort and push, tra la,
And squeeze them until they go mush,
And squeeze them until they go mush!

And that's how we seek out the juicebugs that squeak,
And munch up their nectar without any pique...
Tra la la la la la,
Tra la la la la!
That's how we happily seek!"
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 Date of last edit 7th Frozen River 1675 a.S.

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