Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Helping Hand

While gathering pipevine leaves to feed some caterpillars we had in the office, I found this caterpillar trying to slip its head into its silken girdle while preparing to pupate.

The problem was a wasp. The wasp was trying to kill the caterpillar. The caterpillar was trying to wiggle enough to keep the wasp from grabbing hold. Sooner or later the wasp would have won because the back prolegs of the caterpillar was already locked into its silk pad in preparation for pupation.

I broke the stem and brought in the caterpillar. As always, I stopped along the way to take photos (once the wasp had left). This photograph is one of my favorites; the caterpillar is preparing to slip its head and body into the silken girdle (loop).

It finished the job indoors ...

the caterpillar pupated normally ...

pipevine swallowtail butterfly pupa chrysalis (not cocoon)

and emerged as a big healthy beautiful Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly.

Pipevine Swallowtail male butterfly

I started raising butterflies nine years ago to save them from predators. It's a never-ending job. Nature does a good job of keeping butterfly populations in balance. If more than 2 out of 100 eggs in the wild lived to be an adult, we'd have problems driving down the road. But even with that knowledge, my gut reaction is sympathy for the caterpillar, not the wasp.

I know that I've saved tens of thousands of butterflies through intervention and farming. It feels good.

It makes me think of those who have saved me from natural and spiritual enemies and even from myself and my tendency to make bad choices.

But most of all, the Holy Spirit saves me from making bad choices and Jesus saved me from the natural consequences of the bad choices I made in spite of being told that they were bad choices.

What a beautiful word; 'save'.