Talking Caterpillars

Ephesians 4:29
“Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”

Several recent Creation Moments programs have featured the sounds some ants make, called stridulation. Not only do some caterpillars also make such sounds, but also they appear to communicate with some types of ants.

Male katydids are also known to use stridulation.Many species of caterpillars of two butterfly groups secrete a sweet liquid that ants like. In return, the ants protect the caterpillar from its enemies while they collect their sweet treat. These caterpillars actually call the ants when the liquid is ready, using a variety of sounds. These calls range from a simple “bub…bub” to more complex sounds, such as, “beep ah ah ah beep.”

Another type of caterpillar calls ants when it needs help. This species does a remarkable job of mimicking the ants’ sounds. Very young members of this caterpillar species frequently fall off the leaves on which they are grazing. When they do, they make ant noises until found by foraging ants. The caterpillar’s “ant talk” apparently convinces the ants it is one of them. So they return it to their nest and place it in their nursery. There the caterpillar eats some of the young ants. Two ant species eventually figure out their mistake and kill the caterpillar, while a third species never seems to realize its mistake.

Communication is a gift that God has given to many of His creatures. However, as beings made to have a relationship with God, our communication should be like His – never deceitful and always building others up.

Dear Father, teach me how to use words to build others up. Amen.

Science News, 2/5/00, pp. 92-94, “Ants Squeak.” Photo: Male katydids are also known to use stridulation. Courtesy of DiverDave. (CC BY-SA 3.0)