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Demifiction: Letter to the Editor of the New Orleans Clarion-Picayune
dark haired cat girl, grumpy
rix_scaedu
I wrote this in response to ysabetwordsmith's post here about her poem "Berettaflies" and dialecticdreamer's demifiction response "Demifiction: Children's Hospital Closes Doors!"


To the Editor,

As a transplant to these fair shores and an avid gardener, I am greatly concerned about this cobbled together menace that has been thrust upon us. It is, apparently, a butterfly that stings.

What do its caterpillars eat? Which plants should I be checking for eggs and said caterpillars? What DO the eggs and caterpillars look like?

Horror of horrors, has it inherited colony and nest behaviours from its stinging ancestors?

Surely the creator of these creatures kept notes? Why are more of these important details not being shared with us?

Yours in frustration and concern,

Narelle Collins-Coulter


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This is a wonderful letter, and exactly the kind of thing I was hoping for!

Alas, the only one who knows about berettafly behavior and life cycle is Stylet, who has made himself very scarce.

I asked about colonies and nests because I have seen spider colonies on Norfolk Island...

It's what I would've asked too.

While the citizens of Easy City don't know this yet, the damn things do swarm. They're small-scale social insects kind of like paper wasps.

Also the caterpillars are hairy, venomous little horrors like some of the South American ones that Stylet threw into the mix but didn't mention to me. Dialecticdreamer noticed that just touching the berettaflies is painful, and I figured out the connection from that.

I just looked up the rose butterfly and Narelle might have one of its food plants in her garden, but a relative of that is native to Ohio River valley.

How easy would Stylet have made it to breed more of these without coming back to him?

At a guess, not very. Remember his comment of, "They're supposed to be expensive." Making them easy to breed would cut into his profits.

>> I just looked up the rose butterfly and Narelle might have one of its food plants in her garden, but a relative of that is native to Ohio River valley. <<

Among the things they like are are lantana and pipevines -- two primo plants ubiquitous in butterfly gardens. You can imagine how this thrills the citizens of Easy City, who are now ripping out their butterfly and bee gardens to plant moth or bat gardens instead.

>> How easy would Stylet have made it to breed more of these without coming back to him? <<

Easy enough that they're not a nuisance to reproduce for sale, but not so easy that it would cheaper for a client to hack the build and make their own instead of paying him to resupply. What Stylet meant to do was exactly what commercial beekeepers do: control the supply line through the breeding adults. Any queen can make workers, but you need a queen and a drone for reproduction. Bee breeders control the lines by offering what they consider high-quality germ lines, for example, guaranteed free of African genes. It's more expensive than catching free-range bees, but you know what you're getting.

All anyone would need is a queen to start a colony, although workers might be sold too. Without a drone, the only resupply is through Stylet.

Except for the part where he forgot that when you put the binder in the frankencritter there's a chance of outcrossing if it's a good binder. So you wouldn't be getting proper berettaflies that way, you'd be getting ... I don't know, halfbrets or whatever. 0_o

And this is what they look like - http://www.pbase.com/janicecd/image/85898551

The females are about the same size as a golden orb spider, as I recall.

Note the photographer's comments...

Edited at 2015-10-17 09:05 am (UTC)

Need. Umbrella. NOW. O_O

I like spiders. I do not like them nearly as much overhead.

On behalf of all Arachnophobes, may I say; ARRRGHG!

Edited at 2015-10-17 11:59 am (UTC)

I think I may have seen the spot the photographer was talking about, or one very much like it, and yes, it's a bit like that even if you're not an arachnophobe.

Yeah.. that's a "nuke it from orbit" moment..

Argh, they're in Australia -- that means they're probably venomous, too!

No, they're on Norfolk Island, which is an Australian territory but not actually part of Australia - just ask the locals!

They don't have our venomous problems.

Also, the whole place is about the size of a country town, cows have right of way on the roads, and I would recommend it for a week long holiday.

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