Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jewel # 156 (Nov 26, 2013)

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To my dear grandchildren,

Hide-and-Seek in Nature (Part 3)

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31).

Not only insects benefit by disguises.  The horned lizard has been given a rough, gray skin that blends with the desert ground, concealing it from the enemies.  Certain toads, sitting still when danger threatens, also look like the lumps of dirt around them.  The gray tree frog can change the colour of its skin to match almost anything on which it rests.

The top fin of the deep-ocean-pink decoy fish looks like a helpless little fish, while the rest of it looks like part of the ocean floor.  When a fish comes to grab the "little fish," it becomes a meal instead.  Flounders also change colour to match the various ocean floors on which they lie.

The white polar bear blends perfectly  with the snow and ice where it lives, and the same is true of arctic hares and foxes.  The Creator provides them with white, warm coats in winter.

Spots on a leopard, stripes on a zebra, (did you know that no two zebras have the same pattern of strips), patterns on the skin of a sidewinder rattlesnake, the fur of a mouse and the shell of a tortoise are a few examples of the Creator's special provision for concealing them from enemies or enabling them to capture needed food.

An outstanding underwater disguise is that of the sea dragon, a spectacular resident of Australian waters.  Its orange-coloured, strung-out body is covered from mouth to tail's end with big stringers that look like seaweed of that area, sprouting what appears to be yellow and green leaves from every part of its body.  When a large fish threatens it, a quick dash through the seaweed provides a good hiding place.

Another underwater example is the anglerfish, which hides in the rocks with only its head showing.  Opening its mouth, it wiggles its pink tongue to look like a minnow.  When an unsuspecting fish comes to get this tempting meal, the angler snaps its mouth shut and enjoys another treat.

These three articles only skim the surface of all the provisions the Creator has given some of the world's creatures.  They cannot help but impress us with the wonders of all that He has brought into the world and has always cared for.

But, more importantly, He counts every person of more value  than any other living thing.  For us there is a promise of a home in heaven after life here on earth is over, although we cannot go there in our sins.  But He graciously tells us, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).

When we do this and turn to the Lord Jesus as our Saviour, God forgives our sins and accepts us as His own children, promising us a home in heaven.  Have you admitted to Him that you are a sinner?

Love you all,

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Jewel # 155 (Nov 16, 2013)

Glass Winged butterfly                           Drone Flies


Robber Fly                                     Oxybellis                        


Oriental Praying Mantis                                      Crab Spiders

Arizona Fly

"And they shall be Mine, saith the Lord
of hosts, in that day when I
make up MY JEWELS."
Malachi 3:17

To my dear grandchildren,

Hide-and-Seek in Nature (Part 2)

"Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed;
For the Lord thy God is with thee."
(Joshua 1:9)

In the last issue, examples of some insects' abilities to hide from enemies by their camouflage were described.  We could never include all of them, but here are a few more.

Many large moths have "painted" eyes on their back wings that frighten birds away, while others look just like the bark of the trees on which on which they rest.  A butterfly, known as the glass-winged butterfly, is so transparent that a predator sees only the flower or leaf that this butterfly is resting on.

Drone flies buzz and look so much like bees they even fool the members of a beehive, while the robber fly, also looking like a bumblebee, is avoided by the birds.

In South America, a four-foot snake with a thick body, the oxybellis, is coloured like the vines around which it climbs.  If frightened, it "freezes" even if part of it hangs away from the vine.  If a breeze stirs the vine, the snake sways its entire body to match the vine's movements.

Instead of spinning a web to catch insects, the crab-spider catches them on the petals of flowers where it is overlooked because its colour matches the flower's - white, black, red or pink.  The Oriental praying mantis does something similar.  With colorful legs held upright while sitting in a bush, it fools and traps insects that think it is a flower petal.

A fly in Arizona has transparent wings, except for three heavy black stripes across each side.  At rest with wings partly open, the stripes, seen from the back, look like the legs of a huge spider.  Also on the back of its orange body are spots that look like huge black eyes.  Predators that would go after a fly, seeing what looks like a fierce spider, leave it alone.

Most of us have noticed that caterpillars and small worms on flowers or plants turn the same colour as what they are eating, making it very difficult to spot them even up close.  Some caterpillars eat 27,000 times their body weight before becoming an adult.

Many poisonous or distasteful insects are coloured bright red and black.  These don't need camouflage because birds learn to leave them alone.  Many harmless insects have similar colouring, and birds avoid them as well.

All this is a reminder of the wonders of God's creation.  None of these creatures is aware that it has these markings, but God-given instincts enable them to use them as they do.  Mankind does not need such devices, as God has given us intelligence to avoid our enemies.  The knowledge of His love and care should cause us to give Him our thanks, as expressed in the Bible verse: "Praise the Lord of hosts: for the Lord is good; for His mercy endureth forever" (Jeremiah 33:11).  

In the NEXT issue we will review some creatures besides insects that benefit by God-given disguises.

Love you all,

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Jewel # 154 (Nov 13, 2013)


Katydide    Leafhopper


Walking Stick Bug  Sphinx Moth Caterpillar

To my dear grandchildren

Hide-and-Seek in Nature (Part 1)

"I have called upon Thee, for Thou wilt hear me, O God . . .
Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings."
(Psalm 17:6,8)

Boys and girls always find the game of "hide-and-seek" fun to play, but for many creatures in nature, it is a very important way of staying alive!  For many little insects, the threat of being eaten by hungry, prowling enemies is greatly reduced by the God-given skills to look like something else. This is called camouflage.  Let's look at some examples.

Katydids (grasshopper-like insects) of Central and South America are among the most amazing.  Some have shapes and colouring exactly like the leaves on which they feed.  The wings of others look like big bites have been taken out of them, exactly like some leaves around them.  So even though fully exposed, they are actually hidden.  Some are coloured green, others brown, tan or mixed colours, each matching the plant or tree leaves on which it feeds.  And so they are protected from birds, monkeys and larger insects that would eat them.  A katydid's ears are on its front legs.

Leafhoppers, which are found in many countries, have backs shaped exactly like the thorns on plants around them.  They are completely safe from their enemies until they move.

In India, the Indian leaf bug, which is the same shade of green as the leaves on which it feeds, rocks back and forth like a leaf when the wind blows.  This helps to fool its enemies.

Then there is the caterpillar of the sphinx moth, which frightens an attacker by suddenly blowing up the end of its short body to look like the dark-blue head of a pit-viper snake and swaying it back and forth.  The snake-like look is so realistic, with two imitation, big, black, gleaming "eyes" above a pointed snout and mouth, that the attacker changes its mind and "escapes" as quickly as possible.

Another odd-looking creature is know as the walking stick, which eats tiny bugs on smooth branches of a tree or bush.  When it holds perfectly still, it looks just like a twig.  A bird might perch right next to it and never guess it is passing up a meal.  These insects do not move until it is dark.  This is when they start feeding.  Most are brown or green, and some can change their colour to match what they are resting on.  They have no wings.

How did these unusual insects (and many more) learn these protective camouflages?  Did they get together and decide what would work?  Of course not; insects can't do that.  Only their Creator could give them the ability of camouflage through all their generations.   This shows us another example of His care over all His creatures.

We will look at more examples of God-given camouflages to protect His creatures in our next letter. 

Love you all,

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Jewel # 153 (Nov 6, 2013)

To my dear grandchildren


"Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
(Ephesians 4:32)

Many years ago, a farmer had a son he dearly loved.  But that young boy had developed quite a bad temper.  Scoldings, warnings, even punishments did not seem to have success in changing the boy's temper outbursts.  One day, after much prayer, the boy's father gave him a bag of nails.  Every time the boy lost his temper, his father told him, he would have to hammer one of the nails into the wooden fence at the back of of their yard.  The first day of this punishment the boy had to hammer 14 nails into into that fence.

But slowly, day by day, the boy found that he hammered less nails into the fence.  He had discovered that it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence's hard wood.  The nailing continued for some time, but the day finally came when the little boy didn't lose his temper at all.  He excitedly told his father that evening.  Dad wisely told him that now, each day he held his temper he could pull out one nail from the fence.

The days passed and the little boy worked very hard and was careful about his temper.  Eventually the time came when he ran excitedly to his dad telling him that there were no longer any nails in the fence.  
That particular day, he had removed the last one.  Smiling, Dad took his son by the hand and led him to the fence.

When they reached the fence he looked lovingly at his son and said to him; "You've really done well and I'm very happy for you.  But I want you to look carefully at something in the fence".

The boy stared intently at the fence where he had nailed so many nail.  His Dad said, "Look at the holes in the fence.  It will never be the same because the nail holes will always mark its surface.  Remember son, when you lose your temper and say things in anger, they leave scars just like these nails did.  You can apologize for your angry words and actions, but never forget; it won't matter how many times you say "I'm sorry", the scar will still be there".  

"Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, 
be put away from you, with all malice."
(Ephesians 4:31

Love you all,