Aka. Ep. 54 "Havenworlder discover Christmas Beetles" -- Mike
[AN: "despite being Australian" is an entire mood NGL]
"It's November," said the guide. "It's Christmas Beetle season." This, seemingly apropos of nothing, was a warning to be taken seriously, since it did come from an Australian about Australian wildlife.
"Are they toxic?" worried Frip. "Venomous, poisonous, or attack-minded?" Frip had learned a lot from their trip to Australia so far. Going to see Australia might be doing Frip a great deal of good epigenetically, but that could only work if she survived to pass on her genes.
"Er. Probably not healthy for you to eat them. They're harmless, actually. It's just that there's a lot of them. Might be a bit alarming for you." Human Arn said. "I got one here to show you. Nice and safe."
It was in a jar, kept in its glass cage by a stretch of paper towelling that was, in turn, kept in place with a rubber band. The jewel-coloured beetle scrabbled at the glass ineffectively, turned itself onto its back, and flailed. Human Arn tipped it back onto its feet, only for the insect to repeat its ill-conceived performance.
"Dumb as a bag of bricks," said Human Arn. "They come inside, tip themselves up, and scratch at the sole of your foot if you mistakenly step on them. Creeps me the heck out. You can try rounding them up and tossing them out, but for every one you chuck out, five more come in."
Frip scanned it. Not recommended eating, but primarily because of the thick armour. Eating one wouldn't exactly harm her, but it wouldn't help very much either. "It is safe to touch," said Frip. "May I?"
"I'm standing by in case it burrows into your fluff," said Human Arn. "Those little shits can cling."
The scratching of the claws did not hurt Frip's delicate skin. The insect couldn't even bumble across Frip's hand without stumbling into flipping itself upside down. "This is adorable," said Frip. "So pretty, too. How many did you say there were?"
Now, Human Arn flipped on the outside view, where brightly-coloured beetles festooned every available surface. "Shitloads," said Human Arn.
[AN: The Christmas Beetle hasn't been seen in great numbers thanks to urban expanse taking up their native habitat. Less urban sprawl and more native habitat preservation if anyone wants to see them in the Summer Seasons for themselves.]
[Image care of Australian Museum]
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