Saturday, November 15, 2008

Microscopic Killers - Ophryocystis electroskirrha

Monarch Butterfly Danaus Plexippus

Disease is a nasty part of a butterfly's world. A glance at a Monarch butterfly will not always reveal whether it is diseased or not. Sometimes it takes a microscope to make that determination.
Monarch Butterfly Scales

The touch of a piece of clear tape to the abdomen of a Monarch butterfly removes some of its scales. The loss of those few scales does not harm the butterfly. A look through the microscope shows us a world we cannot see with our naked eye; scales and more.   
OE spores on Monarch butterfly

One terrible disease that Monarch butterflies contract is Ophryocystis electroskirrha (OE). OE infection can be light to heavy. Heavy infection can cause the butterfly to die. Many Monarch butterflies in the wild live without problem with heavy OE infection. The photo above shows OE spores on and among a Monarch's scales. This Monarch was heavily diseased. The spores look like small dark footballs. A spore is, simply put, a disease seed. Under the right conditions it will 'sprout' and grow.

The only way caterpillars can contract OE is to swallow one or more spores. Over 100 spores can fit on one butterfly scale. A butterfly chrysalis or adult cannot contract OE although the adult is the carrier of the spores. The photo below is of a Monarch egg with one scale on it, left behind when the egg was laid. This one scale may have over 100 OE spores on it.

Monarch butterfly egg with scale

At a butterfly farm, farmers often wash Monarch eggs in a light bleach solution. This washing operation does not harm the eggs or caterpillars inside the eggs. It does kill OE spores. Because a hatchling caterpillar eats its eggshell, if a spore is on the egg and the hatchling swallows it, it will contract OE. If eggs are washed with a mild solution of bleach, the spores are killed.
Killed OE spores

The photo above is of OE spores in a light bleach solution. Bleach has killed some of the spores, breaching their cuticles and destroying the spores themselves.
This started me thinking of how many things in my life won't hurt me until I 'swallow' it. These things are all around me and it’s my choice whether to 'eat / swallow' them or not. The caterpillar doesn't have the knowledge that it is swallowing an OE spore and does not have a choice in the matter. I usually have the knowledge when I'm 'swallowing' something I shouldn't swallow.
I 'swallow' things that come from within me and from outside of me. What kinds of things do I find myself 'swallowing' that I shouldn't?
Unrighteous anger and resentment are two things that I ‘swallow’. These things come naturally into all our minds. A thought is like a spore. It is when I dwell on a bad situation that I have started 'swallowing' these 'spores'. Dwelling on a bad situation can cause that can create unrighteous anger or resentment. It is when I dwell on them that they start to grow inside me up to the point that they can take over my life. There is a righteous anger - and there is an unrighteous anger. Anger itself is not sin; it's the type of anger and what I do with it. (Psalm 4:4) I learned not to 'swallow' this by trying to make peace with people who tend to make me angry. If that does not work, I simply try to ignore their efforts to do whatever would make me angry. Once I refuse to 'swallow' anger and resentment, I find myself praying for the other person and it becomes hard to become angry and resentful at someone when I realize how much they need prayer. It also makes me aware of how graceful others have been when they prayed for me rather than becoming angry or taking offense.
Thanklessness is a horrible disease. When I go through my life without looking around and thanking others, I've swallowed the spore of thanklessness.
Pride can be another disease. Praise is not bad for any of us. It can help us as long as we realize that God is the only source of all good things. When we are obedient, we are acting as a part of the body of Christ. He is doing good things through us or giving us good things. Believing that anything good is of me and forgetting that anything good within me is from God, that is swallowing the spore. Praise is good as long as we keep it flowing, up to the right source, God. When I allow it to sit in me it will cause me to become diseased with this horrible 'disease'; unrighteous pride.

Mark 7 20-23
And he said, "What comes out of a person is what defiles him. For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person."

Psalm 4:4
Be angry, and do not sin ...

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