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Epona the Entomopathogenic Nematode Monster Girl

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It's been a while since the last one, so it's time for another Parasite Monster Girl! Meet Epona the EPN (Entomopathogenic Nematode) Monster Girl.

Epona
is a constant thorn in the side for Ophelia, and by extension, the Hyphal Mind, as her actions often deny them access to potential animal-based Substrate. She can inoculate her potential Hosts with a type of symbiotic bacteria that prevents the spores of the Hyphal Mind from successfully taking control of the Host.

However, this consigns the Host to another horrible fate. Within a few days of encountering Epona, the Host's body will become a mere husk that serves as an incubator for Epona's Thousand Youngs. The Host's insides are liquified into a nutritious nectar to feed Epona's children, and after a fortnight, those Thousand Youngs will burst forth and return to the soil, where they await the opprtunity to recommence the ritual.


Epona
is based on Entomopathogenic Nematodes , which are a group of roundworms that infect and kill insects. These nematodes have microscopic larval stages that enter an insect's body, then release symbiotic bacteria which proliferates and release a toxin that kills the insect. The process also turns the insect's insides into a goopy soup. The worms then feed and reproduce in this soup of bacteria and insect goop, raising multiple generations before producing another batch microscopic killers.

There are two well-know genus of nematodes that has this life-cycle - Steinernema and Heterohrhabiditis - and even though they both infect insects, both use symbiotic bacteria to kill their host, and their life-cycles are quite similar, they actually belong to two different families of roundworms. Because of their wide host range and insect-killing abilities, they are commonly used and cultured as a form of biological pest control. Indeed, culture of such nematodes are commerically produced and sold to farmers and horticulturalists.

Aside from being consumate insect assassins, these nematodes also have some special abilities - which are reflected in the design of Epona. 

For example, the grub that she is riding on is bright red - that is based on the ability of Heterorhabiditis to change the colour of the insect host into a vivid red which deter potential predators.

Additionally, some species of Heterorhabditis actually harbour Photorhabdus luminescens as their killer symbiont, and that bacteria can actually cause the infected host to acquire a turqouise glow which is visible in the dark. This can be seen in the colour of Epona's eyes and "hair".
 
Also, the larvae of Steinernema can actually leap across ten times its own body length to reach an insect host - accordingly, Epona herself has an athletic built which is somewhat similar to that of a long jumper athlete.
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Giamm2's avatar

The best parts of the design are the shoelaces and the hairstyle hands down

The-Episiarch's avatar