Beautiful Insects – Butterflies and Moths

Beautiful Insects - Butterflies and Moths

Insects can be beautiful. Today we want to consider a family of insects with about 180,000 described species. They include many of the most beautiful insects on Earth. They are in the Lepidoptera order, and we call them butterflies and moths.

Before they become butterflies and moths, these insects go through a larval stage as caterpillars.


When the caterpillar has eaten its fill of nutrients from its favorite plant, it goes into a pupal stage and through a complete metamorphosis to become a butterfly or a moth. It is one of the most amazing transformations in nature.


The English word “metamorphosis” is from a Greek word meaning “transformation.” So the caterpillar goes through a dramatic change in form and lifestyle. That word is used in Matthew 17:2 and Mark 9:2 to describe the “transfiguration” of Jesus Christ on the mountain where He met with Moses and Elijah. Paul used the word in Romans 12:2, where he describes the “renewing of your mind” to live a beautiful life according to the will of God.

There is much more to say about beautiful insects, but we will conclude our review of these fascinating creatures tomorrow.

— Roland Earnst © 2023

Moths Are Incredibly Beautiful Creatures

Moths Are Incredibly Beautiful Creatures such as Antheraea polyphemus
Antheraea polyphemus moth

Most of us probably have negative connotations about moths. We know that moths can cause problems in agriculture and can infest clothes left unattended in a closet. Moth balls have been in our history for a very long time. But it isn’t adult moths that eat holes in your clothing. It’s their larvae. In reality, moths are incredibly beautiful creatures, and perhaps you have not seen the most beautiful specimens because they are nocturnal.

One moth species known as Antheraea polyphemus can have a six-inch wingspan. The name comes from Homer’s epic “The Odyssey,” in which a giant called Polyphemus ate people. The giant polyphemus moth does not eat people, and neither does any other moth species. There are over 160,000 species of moths, and many of them produce larvae that eat crops that humans grow. However, adult moths have no mouths because they don’t eat anything in their adult stage.

Moths are incredibly beautiful creatures, and like virtually all living things, they are essential for humans in various ways. The domesticated silkworm in America is the larva of the moth Bombyx mori, and there are different species in different countries. Moths pollinate plants that open at night. For example, in the Himalayan ecosystem, they are primary pollinators essential to plant survival.

Some moths dig into the ground, and their larvae support underground ecosystems. The Mopane worm is a moth larva harvested as an important food source in regions of Africa. In the Congo, people eat moth larvae from thirty different species.

There are far more moth species than butterfly species – 160,000 compared to 17,500. As is true of just about everything in the natural world, we must learn how to manage and protect this resource. Mass pesticide spraying is not a positive way to manage this valuable resource God has given us.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Reference: The Spokesman-Review for 8/4/22.

Keeping Balance in Nature

Keeping Balance in Nature with BearsAmong the design features built into the creation is that of avoiding over-eating of plants by herbivores or over predation of herbivores by carnivores. Sometimes there are surprising ways of keeping balance in nature.

Did you know, for example, that bears help control the production of caterpillars? A January 29, 2019, posting by Yellowstone National Park staff reports that Yellowstone bears in August eat an astonishing 40,000 moths a day. The moths are migrating from grasslands over the mountains in Yellowstone, and they are actually above timberline. This allows the bears to climb up and get easy nutrition as they prepare for hibernation in the coming winter. From an ecological standpoint, it limits how many caterpillars are produced, preserving plants for many animals in nearby grasslands.

One of the things science continues to learn about is how many factors are involved in keeping the balance of any ecosystem. The design of all ecosystems is so complex that knowing how many checks and balances are required is almost impossible.

Frequently humans have upset the balance God built into the creation with catastrophic results. The problem of controlling insect swarms is as old as recorded human history. Who would have thought that bears above the timberline in Yellowstone National Park would make a massive contribution to the ecology of nearby grasslands? Keeping balance in Nature requires intelligent planning and design.
— John N. Clayton © 2019