“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.”
The metamorphosis of a caterpillar into a moth or butterfly completely restructures the creature internally and externally. Scientists at Georgetown University in Washington D.C. wondered whether that included the caterpillar’s brain as well.
To find out, they placed tobacco hornworm caterpillars inside a hollow tube shaped like a Y. Scientists then put a bad-smelling gas in one of the arms of the Y. When a caterpillar went down that arm of the tube it received a mild shock. Since the caterpillars go through several molts, researchers performed the experiment on caterpillars at various stages of their moltings.
They found that caterpillars that underwent the experience before their fifth and final molt did not remember their experience with the gas after metamorphosis. However, 77 percent of those caterpillars that encountered the gas and experienced a shock after their final molt remembered their dislike of the gas after metamorphosis. Scientists point out that caterpillars, moths and butterflies are not social creatures. This means they have more need for memory because there is no division of labor among them.
Just because the Bible associates moths with decay doesn’t mean that God didn’t provide them with all they need to live successful lives. To God, no creature is unimportant.
Father, I thank You that You are generous with Your gifts. Let me never forget Your goodness. Amen.
Science News, 3/22/08, p. 189, Rachel Ehrenberg, “Moths’ Memories.” Photo: Tobacco hornworm caterpillar. Courtesy of Daniel Schwen. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.