Vorkosigan Wiki
Vorkosigan Wiki
"Inside the box, the thumb-sized worker butter bug scrabbled about on its six stubby legs, waved its antennae frantically, and tried to escape. Mark gently pushed its tiny claws back from the edges. It chittered its dull brown vestigial wing carapaces, and crouched to drag its white, soft, squishy-looking abdomen to the safety of one corner.

Miles leaned forward again, to peer in revolted fascination. "It looks like a cross between a cockroach, a termite, and a . . . and a . . . and a pustule.
―Miles does not like the original design[src]

Butter bugs were a genetically-engineered species of insect designed to produce a food called bug butter. They were invented by Enrique Borgos and marketed on Barrayar by a business owned by Mark Vorkosigan, the twin clone brother of Miles Vorkosigan.

Dr. Borgos unfortunately was interested in substance over style and his butter bugs were visually repellent, leading to considerable customer resistance. The redesign by Ekaterin Vorsoisson proved far more appealing to the public.

"This bug's legs and body parts were a deep, glimmering blue. The carapace halves flared and then swept back in a teardrop shape. Their center was a brilliant yellow, shading immediately to a deep red-orange, then to light flame blue, then dark flame blue edged with flickering iridescence. The abdomen, barely visible, was a rich dark red. The creature looked like a flame, like a torch in the dusk, like a jewel cast from a crown."
―Ekaterin's improvement[src]

Enrique eventually branched out into variations, such as the radbug.

Behind the scenes[]

  • Butter bugs hold a strong sex/fertility symbolism in the tale of A Civil Campaign. To quote the author: "An ugly alien creature that, when petted, barfs a dubious thick white liquid into one’s hand, but at the same time, if one can get past the biological squick factor, promises a greatly enhanced future life, is not a symbol of female anything." See A Civil Campaign XIII (trust and integrity) for discussion.