|Official Name||Hortaal Moth|
|Habitat||Moon-Moth Forests of Teled Methen|
The Hortaal Moth is a unique, winged insect native to the Moon-Moth Forests found in the southern Hortutor Wildlands. In these sheltered (but vast) groves beneath the arching branches of strange, blue-sapped trees, the Moth flutters in the evening. Likely thanks to the sap of these trees, the Moths glow with the same fine blue tint that the tree leaves have, washing everything beneath and around them in this light at night. The Hortaal Moth adds to the overall dream-like quality of the Forests, and are enjoyed by many in the cities and towns that have formed under the forest canopies.
The Hortaal Moth is believed by many to have existed only after the Cataclysm when the Hortutor Wildlands emerged. It is believed that the Moth existed centuries ago, only to be rendered nearly extinct by the expansion of the Altalar into its native habitat. Whatever the case, the insect rose to prominence when Altalar began to resettle lost or damaged regions within the new Wildlands. It was there that the insects found the altered jungle trees, unusually large and oozing a luminescent light-blue sap that the Moths adored. Their body chemistry was already adapted to the strange trees and they glowed in the night, forming beautiful natural light in the gorgeous cities of Ol Lavei Aechir, which sits within the Moon-Moth Forests. In these habitats, no dark creature would venture, and so the Lesarra founded a majority of their settlement in these locations, allowing the Ol Lavei to thrive ever since. The Moth has remained protected in its habitats for a similarly long time, and will likely remain protected as Teled Methen remains relatively stable, and the Ol Laveis remain detached from warfare.
Hortaal Moths are a large species of moth, with a wingspan of up to six inches. Their bodies are black and only around an inch and a half long, but are covered in dark brown hair. Three pairs of short black legs extend out from them, while their large compound eyes are black. Their two antennas are short and feathered, with a dark brown to a very pale brown color gradient. It’s most notable feature is its color scheme; while its wings are normally a mix of browns, roughly forming an imitation of wood, the thin dusting of hair covering the creature is slightly tinged blue. This is difficult to detect with the naked eye.
The Hortaal Moth lacks sexual dimorphism, with the only differences in the species being their range in sizes, capable of being reached by both males and females. The Moth favors neither gender.
Life Span and Development
Hortaal Moths are laid in tiny, dot-like white eggs in the foliage of their native habitats, from the grand trees that shelter them and those that live nearby, to the plants that grow through Ol Lavei architecture. These tiny eggs can be born with as many as thirty at a time, and form tiny, green larvae that will consume greenery for up to three weeks. It will rapidly increase its mass during this time, reaching half an inch at the end of its efforts. Finally, it will wrap itself in a cocoon and morph from a protected pupa into its adult form if given another three weeks. This cocoon also has streaks of brown and blue on its white surface. The insect can live for a shockingly long time, as much as three years, and some of the largest members of the species have also been noted to be some of the oldest. Mating happens every three to six months, and the cycle begins all over again.
Hortaal Moths lack intelligence, though they are highly adapted to both their environment and the presence of other Races. They do not care much about approaching Altalar, lazily departing when the Race gets too close, while their colorations, and tendency to glow, both drive off most predators and help them blend into trees during the daytime when they are the least active. They move the most at night, often crowding around sap-oozing areas to feast, and then return to resting places; however, when they migrate and the flock moves on, they will often join their brethren in their quick flight through the tree canopy.
Territory and Groupings
Hortaal Moth “flocks” are amorphous collectives of some 300 to 600 members of the species existing densely in one area. The insect migrates throughout the Moon-Moth Forests at least once in its whole life, but never leaves them, as their primary source of food is the beautiful blue sap oozing from the trees.
- Hortaal Moths are rarely hunted by any creature in the Wildlands, and instead, manage their own internal population by, often, eating the laid eggs of other members of their species. As a result, a limited number die and are replaced each year, this form of population control working for the past 300 years the creatures have been actively recorded.
- Hortaal Moths are sometimes reported to have “overdosed” on the special sap that has made them luminescent creatures. They drop to the ground, often on their backs, and weakly move their bodies as blue liquid emerges from both ends of their body before they get up after approximately ten minutes and fly off.