Burrowbugs Species in wow that's a lot of stars | World Anvil
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Content Warning: Swarming Insects
Burrowbugs are insects that extract nutrients from stone and metal by secreting an acidic oil from their pincers that break down rock and ores for ingestion. As a swarming creature, if you see one, there are likely hundreds.

Nature of the Swarm

True to their name, burrowbugs are an insect that lives underground in tunnels of their own making. They produce an acid-like substance that, when delivered through large pincers, is able to break down stone, rock, and metal. They use this ability to ingest the earth for nutrients as well as to dig massive tunnel networks beneath the surface of Nisora. As a hivemind, every bug knows the full layout of tunnels others have created. If any bug is in danger, the others know and can rush to its aid.   They're mostly only seen by those working underground, such as in mines. Others will only encounter them in the unlikely event of an infestation.

Did you know?

The acid burrowbugs produce can induce hallucinations if it makes direct contact with a mammal's skin, as with a bite.

Life Stages

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Burrowbugs go through multiple stages and forms throughout their lives. As adults, they can be either drones, goliaths, or occasionally, become a broodmother. Most burrowbugs live a few months at most, but a broodmother can live and support her swarm for several years. The older and healthier the swarm, the larger the broodmother and the bugs she produces.
9-12 days
1-12 inches
Eggs are laid in satchels, coated with a sticky secretion. Drones carry them to safe locations and end up stuck in the secretion, they're later the first meal for the larvae that hatch.
5-7 days
1-12 inches
The worm-like larvae feast on the remains of their eggs, the secretion, and bodies of the dead drones within. They hatch with acid-producing pincers, but while still harmful to objects, they're not a threat to humans.
14-28 days
2-18 inches
The bugs develop wings at their nymph state and begin searching for more food to continue their growth. Their pincers are strong enough to pierce human skin, and they can travel far from their original nest.
remaining lifetime (1-6 months)
3-28 inches
Most nymphs become drones. They dig, scout, carry eggs, and bring food for the broodmother. They can hurt humans, but won't unless directly threatened. Unlike nymphs, they're encased in a beetle-like shell.
remaining lifetime (1-6 months)
4-30 inches
A small portion of nymphs become hardy goliaths. They protect the broodmother and fight off invaders. Their massive pincers can hurt a human and their pets, and the goliaths will attack any perceived threat.
remaining lifetime (1-? years)
12-50 inches
The broodmother is the queen of the swarm and is massive in comparison. A swarm's single broodmother is a stationary figure at the heart of their nest, protected by a heavy exoskeleton. If threatened, she can emit a vibration to summon the swarm.
WE23 Unofficial Species Challenge Badge by Mochi


Geographic Distribution


Young swarms sometimes breach the surface and cause infestations. Though these 1-2" bugs are less threatening than the ancient swarms from the depths, they still cause millions in damage to pipes, machines, infrastructure, and people as their bites cause wild hallucinations.

Signs of Infestation

Keep an eye out for the below to know if your home has been infested:
  • Strange marks in a trail along metal or stone surfaces.
  • Erosion-like damage to pipes.
  • Egg satchels found in corners, especially in basements.
  • Odd behavior or itching in household pets.


Once you've confirmed the presence of burrowbugs, these are the steps to get rid of them:
  1. Find all locations they're coming in from. These are usually in basements.
  2. Pump poison into every entrance and seal them as best you can.
  3. Fumigate the building, including every crawlspace, cabinet, pipe, and vent.
  4. Repeat fumigation after two weeks to catch any newly-hatched larvae.

Hire or DIY?

The equipment and gas to fumigate costs 300-400 credits for the average home, and up to 2,000 credits for a large factory. If going the DIY route:
  • Verify your supplier and what they're supplying. Don't get scammed!
  • Wear equipment to protect from bites and fumes.
  • Be prepared for multiple long days of searching and gassing.
Hiring an exterminator costs an extra 10-20%. Verify their timeline! Fumigations should be no more than 2 weeks apart. Your exterminator may catch a few bugs to place elsewhere for future work, but as long as your house is bug-free, does it matter?  

Treating Bites

Small bites may itch and rash for up to a week. Bites from large bugs found underground sting, burn, and can draw blood. Too many bites from them can and will kill you.   Even a small bite will induce hallucinations, often within minutes. They last up to an hour. The larger the bite, the more vivid the hallucinations.   If you or someone near you has been bitten:
  • Restrain the victim to keep them and others safe.
  • Vacate the area to avoid further bites.
  • Disinfect and bandage bleeding wounds.
  • Use anti-itch cream on healing bites.

Cover image: by Aaron Lee, Nick Ong, Norah Khor


Please Login in order to comment!
Dec 8, 2023 01:08 by spleen

i love this article, i would absolutely not want to run into these bugs! the detail about the exterminators, though, that's scary...

Have a wonderful day!
Dec 8, 2023 01:17 by Rin Garnett
Dec 8, 2023 14:42 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull

Is it bad I kind of love them?   Not the exterminators, though. That is a worrying detail. XD

Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Dec 8, 2023 16:12 by Rin Garnett

Would you still love them if they ate all your forks, though? :P

Dec 8, 2023 16:52 by Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull


Emy x   Etrea | Vazdimet
Dec 9, 2023 10:31 by Amélie I. S. Debruyne

Love this! They sound like such bother to deal with XD And I love those exterminators trying to plant eggs elsewhere to get more work! XD

Dec 9, 2023 13:59 by Rin Garnett

They're a bother until you're exploring a cave and encounter a 2-foot goliath. THEN they're a nightmare :P

Dec 14, 2023 21:11 by Absinthe

Can they be sautéed in butter like the grasshoppers are in Mozambique? Or would they taste better covered in chocolate?

Dec 14, 2023 22:15 by Rin Garnett

The problem with cooking them is they melt metal. The problem with eating them is the hallucinations.   While most Nisorans will happily trip balls for an hour, burrowbug acid is more likely to lead to violent reactions - a significant problem when most of the adult populace carries firearms. The best way to avoid a bad trip is to remove the organ that produces the acid, which isn't feasible on the smaller varieties of burrowbug. You'd need to go deep underground to find the ancient swarms that are a foot long or larger. Of them, only the larvae have been found to be worth the effort, though they're fiercely guarded by goliaths.   And they taste best deep-friend to get a crunchy outside while maintaining the gooey inside.

Dec 14, 2023 21:12 by Annie Stein

... can i pet them?

Creator of Solaris -— Come Explore!
Jan 6, 2024 20:16 by Mochi

I really do love all the details you've put in this article, it is absolutely fantastic. Thank you for participating in my Unofficial Challenge! Here is the badge's ID: [img:5093419]

WE23 Unofficial Species Challenge Badge by Mochi

I hope you have a great day!   Explore the endless planets brimming with life of the Yonderverse! Go after creatures, discover new places, and learn about the people you find along the way.   Consider voting for me in the Worldbuilding Awards!
Jan 10, 2024 18:32 by Rin Garnett

I'm so excited to edit this article in a few weeks to add this badge to it! Thank you so much for hosting the challenge :D

Jan 22, 2024 02:18 by jyliet of the house

I love the details of the life stages of the bugs! Very neatly presented information.

Jan 27, 2024 22:11 by Rin Garnett

Thank you! Took a lot of trial and error to find a presentation I was happy with :)

Jan 27, 2024 12:38 by Kai

I really like your layout! The idea of these bugs dissolving metals is unnerving. Also those exterminators sound so shady! Is there no one to regulate them?

Jan 27, 2024 22:17 by Rin Garnett

Regulation? What's that? :D Nisora has no planetary government, so while most people won't do anything that would harm their communities as a whole, they see nothing wrong with certain underhanded practices that help them get ahead...