Lesser Knightworm

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With the extinction of the Greater Knightworm and the ever-increasing size of its descendants, the niche for a small herbivore has opened once more. As common knightworm populations continue to penetrate into the coasts of Glicker, it was inevitable for a population to take the place of their extinct relative.

The lesser knightworm came to be when a population of common knightworms safely made it into East Glicker Tropical Coast and settled down among a dense patch of colony crystals. Here, they were sheltered from potential predators, which often had difficulty traversing the tall crystals that grow from the mycelium. As generations passed, these common knightworms adapted to their new, caustic environment. The Lesser knightworm's smaller size allows it to easily fit in the gaps between the colony crystals. They have selected for a red color, as it makes them more difficult for predators to find among the red mycelium when viewed from above, which is the vantage point most predators view the lesser knightworms from as they clamber atop the stand of spiky crystals. Due to the high amount of enzymes floating near the mycelium, the lesser knightworm selected for traits that prevented them from being digested by the caustic soup. The exposed flesh between their segments are lined with mucus secreting glands, which form a protective layer of mucus around their bodies. Meanwhile, the exoskeleton grows indefinitely, preventing them from being digested into oblivion by the colony crystal's enzymes. This, however, restricts them to the colony crystal beds, as the lesser knightworm's segments will overgrow if they stray from their crystal beds for too long.

The lesser knightworm's primary food source is the colony crystal's mycelium, as it is a readily available food source that is soft enough for them to consume. They also consume partially digested chunks of crystal flora and carrion that have drifted into the stand of colony crystals. It will feed on these by using their sharpened antennae to cut the partially digested chunks into smaller, more manageable chunks. However, their feeding habits will often result in the red mycelium between the crystals completely being eaten away as a result of their feeding. When this happens, they will become easier for predators to spot, and will result in the culling of a population. Once populations decrease to normal levels, the mycelium will grow back and the predation rate will drop once more. Lesser knightworms are also known for consuming Photosagnia rombusi, preventing infestations in the crystal beds they inhabit.

The lesser knightworm's mating behavior has been drastically altered due to their caustic environment. Eggs and larvae are easily killed and digested by the caustic soup of enzymes that permeate the crystal beds the lesser knightworm inhabits. As a result, the lesser knightworm now creates nests to lay their eggs in. After eating a hole into the mycelium, a male will use its antennae to dig a pit. Females will roam the crystal mat in search of mates, and will select males with the biggest, deepest nests. When mating, the female will lay her eggs in a thick coat of mucus, protecting them from their enzyme-filled environment. After mating, the female will leave the male to care for the eggs. For the next few days, the male will maintain the nest by consuming the mycelium that grows into it. Once the eggs hatch, the male will then care for the larvae until they grow large enough to survive direct exposure to the colony crystal's mycelium. The male will achieve this by feeding the larvae by regurgitating the mycelium consumed while maintaining the nest and preventing them from leaving the nest until they grow large enough.