Smart Bugs

Matthew 6:8
“Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”

Can you teach an old insect, or even a young insect for that matter, any tricks at all? Science long assumed that insects were too stupid to learn even simple things. However, researchers have now proven that insects can not only learn, they can generalize knowledge into long-term lessons for life.

Smart BugsResearchers wanted to discover whether insects can learn, through a bad experience, to avoid certain bugs. They offered milkweed bugs to preying mantises. Milkweed bugs that feed on milkweed accumulate milkweed’s poisons in their bodies. The mantises ate one bug, and then vomited it up. Each mantis refused a second helping of milkweed bug. They even rejected bugs that were painted to look like milkweed bugs.

A second test was run to test the response of preying mantises who had never had noxious milkweed bugs. The milkweed bugs they were offered were raised on sunflower seeds so they would have no poison accumulation in their bodies. These preying mantises ate the bugs without getting sick. They continued eating the bugs when they were offered. These test mantises would only stop eating the bugs after they ate one that made them sick.

Learning from experience and later applying that knowledge to similar situations has always been considered a more advanced intellectual function. From the creation point of view, however, these abilities were given even to insects by the Creator because He knew they would need them.

I am comforted, Lord, that You have left nothing in the creation without its needs supplied. When I am concerned about the future, help me remember that if You had so much care for insects, You have even more care for me, since You gave Your life on the cross for my salvation. Amen.

D. Franklin. 1984. “Spineless Predators ‘Learn’: Prey Can Cause Emesis in Nemesis.” Science News, Mar. 17. Photo: Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic licenses.