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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Giant Hellgrammites

These aquatic insect horrors are fierce and dangerous predators. They inhabit large streams and rivers, preying on anything that comes within reach of their heavy, sharp jaws.

Giant Hellgrammites have long, flattened and segmented bodies covered in heavy chitinous plates. They are air-breathers, but also have rows of primitive gills along their body allowing them to stay below the surface for hours at a time. Their strong legs and flattened form allow them to cling to the bottom of the swiftest stream or river without fear. They are six inches long when they hatch and grow to a length of four or five feet within a year, eating voraciously and molting several times along the way. They feed on anything they can get their jaws on, inflicting dreadful gaping wounds with their bite.

After two to three years of underwater living, the Giant Hellgrammite burrows into a muddy river bank and pupates, emerging three to four months later as a Giant Dobsonfly, a huge, lacy-winged fly with massive jaws. Fortunately the adult form lives only a few days, long enough to breed and lay eggs on leaves or branches overhanging a stream. The eggs hatch in a few weeks, and the young drop into the water below, completing the creature's life-cycle.

In some societies Hellgrammites are considered a delicacy. Intrepid souls 'fish' for the beasts using heavy lines baited with whole fish, then dispatching the creatures with heavy bladed pole arms. Unfortunately Hellgrammites are just as dangerous out of the water as in, and Hellgrammite fishing is a risky business.

Giant Hellgrammite characteristics:
  • Great toughness. Hellgrammites have a tough exoskeleton and great vitality, making them difficult to kill.
  • Superb bite attack. Hellgrammites inflict terrible wounds with their heavy, razor-sharp jaws. Large specimens can sever limbs or snap spear shafts with a single bite.
  • Fair swimming. Though not particularly agile swimmers, the creatures can crawl along the bottom of streams and rivers quite well.
  • Poor agility. Out of water the creatures are somewhat clumsy and slow, though their bite is still quite dangerous.

Giant Dobsonfly characteristics:
  • Great bite attack. Females retain the heavy jaws of the larval form, though males exchange them for much longer and completely useless jaws used for show.
  • Poor flying. Adults are slow and clumsy fliers.
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