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Story starts with a guy buying a terrarium with 4 groups of beetle-like insects brought and installed in his own house by an alien race. A different color each. Each tribe were supposed to start a kind of colony on its share of the terrarium and sooner or later they were supposed to fight small strategic wars between them. They also changed its shape as they developed stronger.

The owner, against recommendations, is not patient enough to wait and starts to force such fights. Things go terrible wrong and one of the groups, I think it was the weakest yellow colored ones, get out of the container and he kills them. And everything goes downhill after that, as the beetles hate him and he actually has to fight them when they get free.

The yellow ones actually fully developed far from the house to be exactly like the aliens. It's just that the aliens didn't considered them as their offspring because they were way very underdeveloped if kept inside the terrarium.

marked as duplicate by Otis, RDFozz, Jenayah, Buzz, Rand al'Thor Aug 22 '18 at 22:47

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Sandkings, by George R.R. Martin.

Originally published in Omni Magazine, later in a short story collection of the same name.

  • 2
    The August 1979 issue of Omni, scanned copy available at the Internet Archive. The ISFD lists a number of collections containing that story. (I don't understand the widespread reluctance to link to the ISFDB. It's legal, and mostly harmless.) – user14111 Jul 1 '15 at 23:13
  • Thanks. This is the story with only minor differences from what I recall. – Yuta73 Jul 2 '15 at 14:41

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