One of the amazing things that we see in the natural world is that animals are designed so that they do not get wiped out by predators. A classic example is a caterpillar, which has no easy defense against birds who can find them even though camouflage is one of their primary defenses. The North American walnut sphinx moth caterpillar employs an unusual defense mechanism that gives it the nickname accordion worm.
This caterpillar is about two inches long and has air holes in its sides. It can compress its body to force air out through the holes. The accordion worm does this when threatened by a bird predator. The holes are spaced and designed so that the air passing through them sounds like the alarm calls of the particular bird species that threatens them. The whistle is not just a little squeak. The sound level is more than 80 decibels compared to a normal conversation which is around 50 to 60 decibels. When the caterpillar makes the sound, the birds that would eat the caterpillar scramble out of the area. Researchers from the University of Washington tell us that this is the first incidence of a deceptive alarm call between an insect and a bird.
God provides for all of life on our planet, and the complexity of keeping things in balance is remarkable. As we see the balance of nature becoming upset by human actions, we have to be impressed with what a delicate system of life the Earth contains. Romans 1:18 tells us that we can know God exists through the things He has made. Proverbs 8:1-6, 22-31 reminds us that wisdom has been a part of God’s creative process from the beginning.
If the accordion worm could not survive, it would not become the beautiful North American walnut sphinx moth in the picture. More and more we realize how important it is to take care of what God has created for us.
–John N. Clayton © 2018
Data from “News of the Wild” in National Wildlife, Summer 2018.