Cullers – Arthropod Origins

Fellow writer, Chris Kluwe, likes to pin me down with sharp questions like a moth to a specimen board. And having someone to do that is a vital part of the creative process!

So here’s what he asked me about Cullers…

What exactly is the Culler?

Is it the creature itself?

How have they avoided detection for so long?

What ecological niche did they occupy before humanity existed? (Based on them being around since dawn of time)

Are they subspecies of a larger family tree?

Or are they just a mystically appearing threat that shapes itself to its environment?

And here are the answers I came up with…

I think Cullers hail from the arthropods, ‘the most successful animal on the planet’, according to David Attenborough in his Micro Monsters series.


They’re also, generally speaking, the animal type that has the most amazing transformations. Maggot to fly. Caterpillar to butterfly. Wasps that lay their eggs in living caterpillars. Eggs that hatch into a grub that then eats its host to death from the inside out, emerging eventually as an adult wasp. Yuck, eh?


Arthropod DNA seems to be so malleable, giving us the license to make them shape-shifters of a sort. And it also neatly covers off the question of detection. Insects burrow into otherwise unreachable places, many use camouflage, and as shape-shifters many could hide in broad daylight.

Have you seen the movie, ‘Mimic‘? That’s the bad version of what I’m talking about. 😉

The arthropod world also gives us the variety of hierarchies that we’re looking for. Like the praying mantis, centipede or scorpion, some could be lone-wolf killing machines. Others, like ants and bees, could form colonies. This would open up a whole branch of The Falconer organisation that would be devoted to studying and cataloguing the numerous species of Culler. It’s a bit like in X-COM where you can capture, study and dissect aliens.

XCom autopsy

And when it comes to colony Cullers, these creatures could be quite small, individually, but could form up into a larger Culler, one that could even impersonate a human, like Rosie in Patricia’s story. Through some sort of ‘hive mind’, they could collectively produce a creature of frightening intelligence.

In fact…a bit like Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas! 😉