Lifespan: 10 years
Habitat: Larger animals
Activity Cycle: Cathemeral
In a land dominated by enormous beasts that can live for centuries at a time, parasites create an outlet for energy that would otherwise be locked up in the great beasts. Common to the sapient giants and several other large species are lovebugs. Lovebugs come in many types, but all share some common features. Their heart-shaped bodies vary in color but are always soft and fleshy, capable of expanding to contain the blood that they greedily slurp with their circulating toothy mouthparts, grinding through tough skin and scales. Their limbs end in claws for climbing, allowing them to scale any part of their host’s body. What makes them unusual among Jotunheim’s parasites is not their physiology, but what they do to their host.
A lovebug’s grinding mouthparts are coated in a specialized poison. This potion has two effects. One, it prevents the blood from clotting, a feature found in blood drinkers of all sorts. More unusually, this saliva is an aphrodisiac. Through the combined action of an entire infestation, the host’s sex drive is driven to greater heights, and more unusually it seems that hosts with lovebugs are more attractive to the opposite sex than those without. The lovebugs then use the opportunity of mating to transfer to new hosts. Typically it is the females that leave their host body. If there are no existing lovebugs already on the host, they will simply clone offspring, making a few males for the next generation in the process.
Both in Jotunheim and in other worlds, the saliva of lovebugs is valued as an aphrodisiac, often mixed into wine and other drinks to heighten sexual experiences. In many places, it is worth more than its weight in gold for these uses.