Black Cloth Butterfly
|Black Cloth Butterfly|
|Official Name||Black Cloth Butterfly|
|Common Nicknames||Widowrobe Butterfly, Nightfriend Flapper|
|Habitat||Temperate areas of the Regalian Archipelago|
The Black Cloth Butterfly is a widely-spread insect native to the Regalian Archipelago, and is well-known to the inhabitants of the region. First recorded by the Altalar and later the ancient Ailor peoples which dotted the landmasses, the Black Cloth Butterly enjoys temperate zones and is easily recognisable by its thin, rounded, near-black wings which give the air of some exotic cloth propelling them through the air. The Breizh found the insects unique for their visual beauty but also dark color scheme, and they became important to the Culture’s celebration known as the Feil od Papillenuit. It is their mesmerizing visual look and their key role in Breizh Culture that makes the Black Cloth Butterfly a commonly known, popular insect.
Black Cloth Butterflies have been ubiquitous creatures over the centuries of settlement in the Regalian Archipelago. Solvaan Altalar records mention them as far back as 800 BC; back then, they were seen as pests who sipped and sapped Altalar fineries, infesting their orchards. Time taught the Race to clear them away, and it was the Ailor who next encountered the insect in large numbers across the temperate lands of the Archipelago. The Black Cloth Butterfly was often seen as a being of finery, but also a herald of death due to its stark black coloration and tendency to suddenly flock together in huge, roiling swarms upon being disturbed. For the Breizh, this role as a herald of death evolved into becoming a conduit to the dead, harmless and eventually adopted into the Feil od Papillenuit, also called the Feast of the Black Butterflies. The Breizh practices around this holiday also grew the myth that Black Cloth Butterflies were really moths, and ate fabric since this Culture stored the captured insects in special sacks that, to outsiders, looked to explode with black winged insects on this particular day. Despite their isolation in the Regalian Archipelago, the Breizh ways eventually allowed the public perception of the animal to evolve yet again, and now its role as a herald is exclusively that of a conduit, though many more dismiss these superstitions and simply hold the insect as having a natural beauty.
The Black Cloth Butterfly is a medium-sized butterfly, with a wingspan of three inches and a body length of less than one inch. The insect has a small head, with a pair of thin, black antena with clubbed ends and a pair of similarly black compound eyes, sporting a thin black proboscis for a mouth. The Butterfly has a large thorax to which both of the wings and six segmented legs are attached, before ending on a shorter abdomen. The insect’s wings are its most notable feature, being a shade of blue so dark it’s almost black, with the wing shape being a pair of rounded, almost petal-like formations which look quite striking when flapped.
Black Cloth Butterflies have no external marking of gender, though males are often smaller than females. Their gender ratio also seems to favor females, but this is possibly down to regional variation rather than a factor in the entire species.
Life Span and Development
Black Cloth Butterflies are laid in groups of tiny, grey pellet-like eggs in and around the leaves of temperate, ideally fruit-bearing, trees to mature over only a brief period. Upon their emergence, Black Cloth caterpillars are short, stubby creatures with an ash-grey color to their bodies and white, fuzzy hairs. Once they have consumed enough material suitable for the process, their body will undergo a metamorphosis in a smooth, dark blue cocoon, emerging in its adult form after several weeks of hibernation. They can live up to three years, but those kept by scholars and insect-lovers in special cages have been shown to live twice as long.
Black Cloth Butterflies are basic creatures, lacking sophisticated patterns of thought and action. They mostly feed on the nectar of flowers and seem to favor those from fruit trees, with the Breizh often easily finding groups of them for capture around their famous apple orchards. They are a communal species and live in kaleidoscopes, with it being incredibly rare to see lone specimens. It is also unwise for those wishing to keep these insects to keep them alone, as they will grow listless, and then die, without at least one or two others of their own kind around them. The Black Cloth Butterfly has no natural defense mechanisms, but understandably so is much harder to see at night or hiding in the shade. Instead, they use the sheer number of their large kaleidoscopes to confuse enemies, fluttering around erratically upon being disturbed as one before columning off into the sky.
Territory and Groupings
Black Cloth Butterfly kaleidoscopes can number in the hundreds, perhaps even reaching the thousands, though it would be impossible to count. They tend to cluster in the foliage of trees during the evening, hiding from predators in the darkness, and emerge at dawn to seek out newly opening flowers and sources of natural juices and nectar to feed on.
- The sacks used during the Feil od Papillenuit to capture Black Cloth Butterflies are, ironically, rarely black.
- When Black Cloth Butterflies are found by Breizh outside of the Feil od Papillenuit, they are often merely shooed away if they are crowding plants in need of harvesting, as they are still seen as part of honoring one’s ancestors.