Papercutters
Mite-like creatures from Macrystis (Lontis II, Solar Dominion) with a foraging behavior and ecological niche very similar to terrestrial leaf cutter ants.

The papercutters gather debris and parts of plants for their gestation chambers where their larvae and symbiotic molds/algae convert it into nutrients. The papercutters carry spores from the molds/algae with them, and can establish a hive given very few individuals. While Macrystian life is chemically different from Terragen life (left-handed amino acids and energy storage in the form of cyclic hydrocarbons) the papercutters are able to metabolize cellulose. Using only paper, ambient moisture and nitrogen fixed from the atmosphere their molds can produce nutrients to keep a colony thriving. After their discovery in 5393 the papercutters have repeatedly appeared as pests in different places, mainly traditionalistic or underdeveloped worlds; it only takes a few encysted individuals dropped in a paper-rich environment for them to set up a colony that will reduce all paper (and some plants) into mold and mites.
 
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Development Notes
Text by Anders Sandberg

Initially published on 19 December 2001.