Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Painted Lady Butterfly vs American Lady Butterfly

Which butterfly is pictured in these photos?

These two butterflies confuse many of us. They are two totally different butterflies that are in the same genus of classification. The first photo is of the American Painted Lady, Vanessa virginiensis. The second photo is of the Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui.

Many people who raise Painted Lady butterflies will identify an American Lady incorrectly. They resemble but are not the same at all. The caterpillars look very different from each other.

The first photograph is of a Painted Lady caterpillar. The second photograph is of an American Lady caterpillar.

Although the caterpillars cannot be confused easily, the adult butterflies are easily confused. What looks like a Painted Lady butterfly may actually be an American Lady butterfly and vice versa.

In the same way we confuse butterflies, it is easy to confuse the heart and intent of people.

Jesus had people misunderstanding the intent of his heart. I have tried to learn from the things Jesus said and did. Sometimes he defended himself while other times he was silent. It's hard to know when to speak and when to be silent.

Jesus faced what would be (for most of us) a very heart-breaking situation. His very friends said that he was deranged and came to take him by force.  (Mark 3)

In some situations we are often only presented with part of what we should know. Someone may give twisted or incomplete facts about another person. This can cause a person to look like he/she is not the person he/she really is inside. Other times people will intentionally tell absolute untruths about another person.

When I am friends with two people who are in disagreement, I find it heartbreaking. It is especially difficult when I realize that one of them is deliberately trying to make the other person to appear to be of evil intent. But who do I believe when it is not a situation where facts are provable?

The hard part is for those who are friends of both parties - who do they believe?

No matter how many people call an American Lady a Painted Lady, it does not make it a Painted Lady. It remains an American Lady.

No matter what is said about anyone that is untrue, it does not change the truth about that person. This is a lesson that I learned from these two butterflies.

When I am the person being misrepresented, it is easier to handle when I realize that nothing anyone can say changes what I am. As Popeye says, "I yam what I yam and that's what I yam".

Through this I've learned to pray for those who speak against me. This is taught in at least two places in the New Testament. What peace it brings!

I have also been the one caught 'in between' in friendships and business relationships. I have believed the wrong things about others many times, because I blindly believed to what others have said. I understand why it is easy to believe the wrong things about people. I thank God that He has forgiven me for the times I've misjudged others.

Matthew 18:15-17

And if thy brother sin against thee, go, show him his fault between thee and him alone: if he hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he hear thee not, take with thee one or two more, that at the mouth of two witnesses or three every word may be established. And if he refuse to hear them, tell it unto the church:

Mark 3:21

And when those who belonged to Him (His kinsmen) heard it, they went out to take Him by force, for they kept saying, He is out of His mind (beside Himself, deranged)!

Matthew 5:44

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Luke 6:28

Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

I thank God for those who have worked to bring peace as much as possible in difficult situations.

Protective Cocoon

Moth Cocoon - Opened and Pupa Removed

How cool can that be? A moth cocoon can be carefully cut open and the moth pupa removed without harming it. Although it is commonly thought that the pupa must stay inside the cocoon for the moth to emerge and be healthy, it simply isn’t true.

Removing the pupa renders the value of the cocoon to nearly nothing, as far as the value of the silk itself. From the moth's point, it seems to simply be a protective 'home' for the pupa. On rare occasions, a moth caterpillar will create a cocoon and pupate outside of it. Other times one will fail to make a cocoon. Normally, the caterpillar makes the cocoon and pupates inside it.

There are poems and prose that state that if a cocoon is opened the adult moth will be unhealthy or won't live. So what do we believe? It's hard to know what truth is and what isn't in this world. Research may turn up many pages on the internet that support that erroneous claim.

We've removed many pupae from cocoons. A cocoon is simply something like a sleeping bag. In nature, though, these pupae would be vulnerable outside its cocoon. Predators and parasitoids would have better access to it.

In nature, moth caterpillars that pupate outside the cocoon would have less chance of survival. They are outside the protection of the cocoon.

It makes me wonder - what is my cocoon? Where is my safety? Am I making choices that place me outside my cocoon of safety?

A bible study quickly reveals the source of our protection and our safety. First, God himself.  Second, good counselors. 

Proverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.

Proverbs 21:31

The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD.

Proverbs 24:6

For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.

Proverbs 29:25

The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

Less than the best?

White Peacock butterflies are beautiful.  Rather small, flitting close to the ground, they stay near damp areas where their host plants grow.  Caterpillars of this species eat several plants; water hyssop, frog fruit, plantain, and green shrimp are a few of their host plants.

While growing water hyssop for these butterflies, we often propagate new plants for the females to lay eggs upon.  The plants are started in four inch pots in the greenhouse.  As soon as they grow roots, they're fertilized.  Well, most are fertilized!  Every now and then one of the pots are skipped when we add fertilizer to the pots.

Both of these plants were started the same day.  It's easy to see which plant was fertilized and which wasn't fertilized.  Without proper nutrients, they sure will not grow as well or as healthy.  If someone didn't know what a healthy water hyssop plant looks like, they may not realized that one is malnourished.  Yet next to a healthy plant, anyone can see which onet hasn't had the proper nutrients and stands out like a sore thumb.

Things like this remind us how important proper nutrients are for life.  Customers and caterpillars both should have the plant on the left, not the plant on the right.  Yet both customers and caterpillars would rather have the plant on the right rather than no plant at all!  We all tend to settle for less than perfect when we don't see or cannot obtain what is perfect.

It makes me stop and wonder; where am I settling for 'less than the best'?  

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Butterfly Praise

Butterflies are fantastic; beautiful, graceful, and captivating.

We are surrounded by butterflies during the spring, summer, and fall. They change from a caterpillar to a chrysalis and emerge with wings, flying high out of our reach. They visit our gardens, landing on plants just a few feet away, and drink nectar from flowers. We can't help but stop to give God the glory for these beautiful creatures.
Just like when I'm with butterflies, I find that after I've been talking to certain people in my life, I find myself often thanking and/or praising God because of them.
Watching butterflies causes me to praise God. Thinking of others often causes me to praise God. I have to ask myself if I live my life in a manner to cause others to praise God because of me. Does anyone ever leave my presence giving praise to God because of what I am?

• Have I made someone’s life easier today?

• Have I helped someone who is going through a difficult time?

• Have I been a blessing to someone?

I should start my day by asking God to make me a blessing to someone else and for my life to bring praise to him.

Galatians 1:24

"And they praised God because of me."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hidden Beauty

Hidden beauty is all around us.  Things that we consider drab are quite often actually stunningly beautiful.  We just don't look at the whole picture.

The Great Leopard Moth is one example.  When this moth is sitting still, it's a simple white and black moth. 

But when the wings are moved to the side, bright sunlight reveals an iridescent metallic blue on the topside of its abdomen. This blue is rarely visible. The brilliant blue stays hidden under the wings.
Another moth with hidden surprises is the Io moth. When resting during the day or at night, it's a rust or yellow colored moth, depending upon whether it is a male or female.

When the upper wings are moved to the side, its large eye spots are visible.

The rust colored moth is a female. The yellow moth is a male.
The male Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly is a drab dark black butterfly until it is seen in bright light.  The light refraction reveals a bright metallic blue color that is absolutely beautiful.

This hidden beauty makes me wonder about other people.  Am I missing some of the ‘beauties’ of life by looking only from one angle or only in certain lights?  Some people show their real beauty when times get rough.  Some show their beauty when someone is in need.  At unexpected times, people show their beauty in different and unexpected ways.

There are those who value outward beauty and later find that inward beauty is more important. Most of us fall into this group of people. We learn about real beauty when we are purchasing a sofa (beautiful but uncomfortable), a house (gorgeous but drafty and with bugs), or meeting a person (beautiful/handsome but has a nasty nature).

So what is beauty?

The greatest beauty in this world is Jesus. But in person, he was not beautiful. Man's renderings in ink, charcoal, paint, and every other media illustrates Jesus as a fairly to very good-looking man. Yet according to Isaiah 52:2 he was not a good-looking man. "... there is no beauty that we should desire him".

The real beauty of Jesus was not that of facial features of physical form. His real beauty was his love for his Father and for us; mankind. Real beauty is God's love.

It's the manifestation of God's love in people that is valued the most in difficult times. When things are going good, we may want to be around the things that are more visibly beautiful. But when rough times hit, we want the true beauty of the actions of love in our lives.

What actions?
  • bringing a meal when we're unable to cook
  • paying our bills when we're unable to work
  • holding our hands when they're empty because a loved one was taken from us
  • praying for us when we're in need
  • spending time with us when we're lonely
  • picking up our prescriptions when we're unable to drive
  • caring for our loved ones when we are unable to do so
  • sometimes it is simply holding a door open for us with a smile and a 'good morning'
  • (the list is as endless as the needs of mankind)
After appreciating the beauty of God's love, we should first focus on obtaining the true inward beauty of that love within ourselves.  Second, we should focus on appreciating the other real beauty around us, the beauty inside our fellow man.

Isaiah 52:2
... there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Love Butterflies?

Beautiful butterflies, flying here and there, drinking nectar from this flower and that flower .....
...... or are they?  These little brown critters can't be butterflies.  After all ....

..... we all know that butterflies are bright and colorful!  Of course .....

.... these little brown critters can't be butterflies.

We all have been taught dissimilar things and have different preconceived notions; from food to eat to how to behave in public to what a butterfly is.  Very few people would realize that all of the above photos are of butterflies.  As humans, we tend to place value on bright colorful butterflies and dismiss dark, dull, and small butterflies.

Look at the photos below. We normally give more attention and value to bright colorful daytime butterflies and ignore the huge beautiful night-time moths like these. Yes, all photos below are of moths.

We tend to ‘love’ only certain butterflies and moths and not other butterflies and moths. We ‘love’ many creatures in varying degrees depending entirely on the way they look or act.

If a little tattered brown Duskywing butterfly could become a large majestic Monarch butterfly, most humans would 'love' it more.

What if God loved like we do, his love depending upon how we look or act? I'm so glad that God already loves us totally, fully, and completely.
We can't do anything to cause God to love us more.

He loved us so much that he planned for a way for us (mankind) to be reunited with him.  He loved us that much BEFORE we accepted him.  Love can't be greater than that.  He can't love us more if we're bright and beautiful, with fewer tatters.  He wouldn’t love us more if we spend more time in prayer and studying his word, drawing closer to him and loving him more. He won't love us more if we help others more.  He won't love us more if we love others more. He may approve of our actions more but not love us more. 
We can love him more but he can't love us more.  He always has loved us to the very maximum that anyone or anything can be loved.

We can put ourselves in a position where WE can love God more.  WE can learn from God more.  We can be closer to God.  But God has already loved us and does love us to the extreme.

Romans 5:8
"But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners."


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Monarch Cremaster SEM

Every year, millions of Monarch caterpillars change into chrysalises.  During this change, the caterpillar literally sheds its skin and becomes a chrysalis.  As it slips out of its skin, it must let go with its legs and hold on with its cremaster, the black stem at the top of the chrysalis.

The two lowest black dots of a Monarch chrysalis are called 'holdfast tubercles'.   A pupating caterpillar/chrysalis is literally suspended by two tiny holdfast tubercles for a moment as it withdraws its cremaster from underneath its old skin and grasps its silk button with the tip of its cremaster.  Long ago scientists discovered that the tip of the cremaster is covered with tiny hooks.  These hooks become tangles with the loops of the silk pad it had made before pupating.
This step is critical.  If the cremaster doesn't grasp the silk button and falls onto most surfaces, it ruptures.  The chrysalis breaks open upon impact with the surface below it.  We still often hold our breath as we watch this critical moment during pupation ... STRESS ... will it make the reach?  Will someone bump the table?  Will wind blow at the wrong time?  Will an animal pass by and knock it off the stem before it finishes? 

We were given Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) images of the tip of a Monarch cremaster, along with permission to use the images.  This is an image of a Monarch cremaster with its hooks locked into the loops of its silk button.  No wonder it holds so well! 

The cremaster's hooks and silk pad's loops are much like Velcro®.  Unlike  Velcro®, the hooks and loops make a connection so tight that if one simply pulls at the chrysalis, the chrysalis will break before the hooks pull loose from the silk pad. This protects the cremaster from being blown loose in storms. 

It is good to be reminded again that God was there first.  He created everything.   How wonderful it is to rest in the knowledge that such a God is still here, handling things from year to year, month to month, week to week, day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, and even second to second.  What a stress relief!

Genesis 1: 20-25
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Total commitment to the eyeballs and beyond!

White Peacock

This White Peacock is really getting into its food.  The nectar that it needs is at the base of this flower.  The flower has a long tube throat and the butterfly's proboscis must reach the base of the flower to drink nectar.

This photograph shows the proboscis as it's curling up after it has finished drinking from that flower.  It's a long tube that curls into a very tight curl when it's not drinking.

A Cloudless Sulphur is really entering into its meal in this photo and the one below.

As was this Palamedes above and this Spicebush below.

That's a total commitment!  Getting this deep into a flower blinds the butterfly to what is going on around it.  That's total commitment.  It's not all the time that the butterfly is this deep into its food.  It's just a bit here and there. Sometimes it doesn't need to dig so deep.  Sometimes it does.    In the photo below, we see a Cloudless Sulphur that didn't need to dig deep into the flower at all to obtain nectar.

So what about me?  How committed am I?  Am I digging deep enough?  The answer is a resounding NO, not always.  My spiritual food is available through many 'flowers', from friends, messages, prayer, quiet time, and the Bible. 

Without taking time to totally commit myself, I will not gain the amount of 'nectar' I need to sustain my spiritual life as I should.  There is a point where one can spend too much time in spiritual issues and fail at living the life God meant one to live, interacting with others, earning a living, and enjoying life.  I'm not at that point, I'm falling short of spending enough time seeking 'nectar'.  There is a point where one knows he/she should commit more. 

Like the butterfly, I need to dig deeper into reaching the true nectar to give myself spiritual food to grow in the spirit.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Serves Him Right!

Veronica bugs kill butterflies.  This one has killed a Duskywing butterfly.  I do not like Veronica bugs.  End of story.

Then sometimes it's so good to see some of the sights I find as I wander with a camera.  Especially when I wander and find a spider eating a veronica bug.  Grin.  Gloat.  Chuckle.

It's so satisfying to see 'justice'.  But it shouldn't be.

Especially when it comes to my fellow man, including those who have declared me their enemy.

I know that if I am filled with the Holy Spirit and let him direct me, crowing when disaster befalls other humans wouldn't be as bad as it is when I don't allow him to take over.  I tend to learn the hard way.

Misjudging is the cause of not thinking or seeing the real situation - or someones upbringing - or battles they deal with - or many other things.  Misjudging can be, to a certain extent, understandable from a human standpoint.

Crowing or grinning when disaster or negative things happen to someone (who has declared me to be an enemy) isn't understandable except as the carnal bad nature of myself.  It's just plain ole bad - all the way around.

The tendency to do so is also as old as the hills, almost. Solomon wrote about it in Proverbs (below).

After reading what Solomon wrote, the bad side of me says that if I learn not to rejoice when my enemy falls, God will take care of my enemy better than I can which would be much more satisfying.  But that in itself is again the bad nature of hoping for something worse than what has already happened to someone.  Human nature is pretty nasty.  At least my human nature is.

Here's hopes and prayers that I'll always pray for my enemies with a pure heart, the love of God, praying that my 'enemy' will draw close to God and that I will draw closer to God too. 

Wouldn't it be great if we all changed to the point that we'd all be close to God and find out that it doesn't take work to love one another, that it could be simply natural.  That's the reality of heaven - it won't be hard, won't be work, it will be simply our nature to love one another at all times, with the pure love of God.
Until then, I'll pray and trust God to change me to be what I should be and that I can learn to let God's love flow through me instead of my human nasty side blocking God's love.

Proverbs 24:17-18 KJV
Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Polyphemus Moth and Gas Pump???

Uh - why is a Polyphemus Moth hanging out at a gas pump?

Oh yes, it was quite a surprise to find this huge moth with a 6" wingspan at the gas pump in the afternoon. 

We find Polyphemus moths quite often at our moth light in the early morning, a bright light with a white sheet underneath it.  Moths are attracted to light and the white sheet reflects the light, creating a huge white glow.  We are able to photograph these beauties by picking them up off the sheet, placing them on a piece of bark, and taking a picture.  Then we can allow them to fly away again.

But in the middle of the afternoon?  Yes, it flew in to the bright light at night but it sure hung around for a long time at a busy gas station.  Did no one notice it?  I noticed it simply because I notice moths and butterflies quickly.

I placed her in a brown paper bag for a few hours, she laid some eggs, and I could release her to finish laying eggs in nature.  I could then raise some moths from the eggs she laid.

As I thought about it, I realized that once again I was on the verge of taking a gift for granted.  It isn't every day I find such a beauty in such an unexpected place. 

Uh - thinking of unexpected places to find gifts, I realize tonight that once again, I have often been given a certain gift but not one that I appreciate as much as this beautiful moth. 

I was given the 'gift' of:

  • An opportunity to exercise patience

  • An opportunity to exercise self-control

  • An opportunity to control my tongue (fingers on the keyboard)

  • The opportunity to pray for others who would not expect me to pray for them and who I wouldn't, in my human self, think to pray for ...
The question is, am I seriously praying for the good of others who despitefully use me?  It's always the time for a self-check and always time for a God check.  I pray that God will 'try my reins and my heart' and reveal to me where my attitude is not in alignment with Him.  He wants the best for me and those who see things differently than I do.  It's not about me.  It's about God.  It's about Jesus.  It's about the Holy Spirit working in me.  I pray that I will step back and allow the Holy Spirit to work in me.

{Even now as I preview this to publish, I realize that I still haven't taken time to pray not just for others but for myself.  I need prayer worse than others - the fact that I wrote this and still hadn't prayed about the situation is proof in fact!}

Psalm 26:1-3
Judge me, O LORD; for I have walked in mine integrity: I have trusted also in the LORD; therefore I shall not slide. Examine me, O LORD, and prove me; try my reins and my heart. For thy lovingkindness is before mine eyes: and I have walked in thy truth.

Matthew 5:44-45
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Luke 6:27-29
"But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also

Monday, June 28, 2010

Little Blue Butterfly

Ahhh, the joy of traveling and taking photos of butterflies that we don't have in our part of Florida.  While driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway we saw quite a few of these beauties.  What a wonderful drive!  I could stop where I wanted, wander and take photos, return to the car, and drive further up the parkway.  Stephen napped while I wandered.  We were both happy with the day. 

After returning to the hotel, we downloaded images from the camera, edited this photo, and went to sleep in a quiet air-conditioned hotel room.

The next day we visited a temporary butterfly exhibit at WNCWild, drove a short while, and checked into a hotel. After uploading this photo, placing it on facebook to ask someone to identify it (I left my book at home), we headed out on foot to buy supper. Life is good ... other than one grumpy hotel clerk, it had been a great few days away from the farm.  Butterflies or something butterfly related was in every single day.

Then - we decided to buy supper across the four-lane road.  We went to the light and waited for the light to change.  The red hand was up - NO WALK.  The light changed but the hand stayed red.  The light changed back and still - NO WALK.  In four light changes, never did the light tell us that we could walk so we walked as soon as the light changed and we knew it was safe to walk.  The 'walk' light was the one that didn't change; it was broken.

A truck was waiting to turn when the light changed and as it drove past the passenger rolled down his window and yelled out, "You're supposed to wait till YOU have the signal to walk".  Stephen and I knew that we did the only thing we could do unless we went back and took the car.  We walked when the light had changed and didn't jay-walk. The only problem was that the 'walk' light was red.  The passenger in the truck was misjudging us because he only saw us for a minute - not the 15 or more minutes we were at that light waiting for the hand to turn green. 

Stephen commented to me that it ought to teach us a lesson about when we judge others.  We don't know their whole story.  Yes, there are times we know someone else made an inexcusable bad decision.  But more times than not, we can't know all the facts that lead up to decisions that others make.  Sometimes we can't know everything that leads to us making our own decisions, let alone other people's decisions.

It appeared that Stephen and I were being rude.  Instead, we were simply dealing with a broken electrical switch (or something along that line).  What the passenger didn't realize was that we were well aware that they were waiting to turn and we moved as fast as we could so we wouldn't slow them down more than a few seconds.   Appearances can be deceiving!

Now I wonder about the hotel clerk - what caused her to respond the way she did to us?  Did she just lose a loved one?  Did she and her boyfriend just break up?  Did her child become ill?  Did she fail a college test?  Whatever caused her to react as she did isn't my business.  My business is to pray for her.  We hope that others pray for us when we're short with them as we should be praying for her.

Stephen and I hope we remember this lesson and apply it in our lives - remember that we don't know the facts in situations. Things are happening of which we aren't aware that cause people to make the decisions they make.

John 7:24  (Jesus was talking.)
"Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Caterpillar Doing What?

Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars caught my eye yesterday and I had to take a few photos.  What neat caterpillars they are! 

When one is touched, it rears its head and thorax back, extends it's normally retracted osmeterium, and startles people and critters that hasn't seen such behaviour before.

Many of these caterpillars remind me of old science fiction horror movies.  The monsters were often simply enlarged and slightly modified insects.

The back prolegs of the same caterpillar as pictured above are not what we'd expect.  The colors are natural - we didn't change them for the photo. 

What is the value of these critters?

Most people shudder at the sight of the above caterpillar.  Value = paying for insecticides to kill them.

But the adult butterfly is valuable to nearly anyone.  The males have iridescent blue on their hindwings.  Value = people will pay to visit a butterfly exhibit to see them.

Value is truly in the eye of the beholder as far as we humans go.  Most humans value the adult butterfly but not the caterpillar. 

How blessed we are that God doesn't see us the same way.  We're all valuable in the eyes of God.  Our value is worth the blood of his son. 

I rarely quote John 3:16 simply because it's quoted so often and so many people know that verse. But in some situations, it's the most appropriate verse in the Bible.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son; Jesus Christ."

That's putting a pretty high value on us.  We thank God ...


Monday, June 21, 2010

Where is the Nectar?

This cute little skipper butterfly is trying to drink nectar and as we watch it, we're cracking up.  First, it's drinking through a hole an insect made in the side of the flower instead of through the open end of the flower.  Second, the flower is detached from the plant.  Nectar is no longer at the base of the flower.  Shortly after we snapped this photo, the flower fell off, butterfly still holding onto it.  As soon as the flower started falling, the butterfly flew to another flower.

It isn't an unusual sight.  This Cloudless Sulphur butterfly is attempting to drink nectar from a flower that has fallen onto a leaf.  It's like trying to drink through a straw lying on a table - not inserted into a glass.  Nothing is at the other end!

Here the same thing is happening once again.  This Gulf Fritillary butterfly is trying to drink nectar from this fallen canna lily bloom.  The flower is covered with dew, but that's all. 

These butterflies are driven by instinct.  They see the flower and they do not register whether the flower is attached to the plant or not.  They spend several minutes searching with their proboscises for nectar before they give up and fly to another flower. 

Thinking about these butterflies who are failing in their search for food at these flowers or ending up drinking just dewdrops instead of nectar, it makes me want to stop and do a self-check on my feeding.  Am I searching for food where none exists? Am I settling for less than full sustenance?

When Jesus talked with the woman at the well, he told her that he was the living water.   Without her knowing that the best that God could give to her was there in person, talking with her, Jesus told her, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water."  

She responded with, "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw."  

She didn't have it quite right but with our limited understanding, we can't have it quite right.  But Jesus takes care of what we can't.  She would still need to go to the well to draw water to drink for her physical body.  The wonderful gift was that her spiritual body would be filled and not thirst. 

I hope I never become satisfied with less than the best that God wants to give me. 

John 4:10-15
Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.   Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.  There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)  Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.  Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.   The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?   Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?   Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.  The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cocoon Colors Like Easter Eggs!

Silk moth cocoons (Bombyx mori) are cool. 

A friend sent me some eggs of silk moths a few weeks ago.  They hatched and I fed the caterpillars.  And fed them and fed them and fed them and fed them - my poor mulberry tree.

After weeks of me cutting leaves and cleaning rearing containers, they finally started making their cocoons.  They produce silk from spinnerets underneath their heads.  Using from 1 - 3 THOUSAND feet of silk, they make a small cocoon around themselves.  Inside its cocoon, the caterpillar changes into a pupa.  A few weeks later, the adult moth emerges.

The wonderful surprise was the range of colors of cocoons.  We didn't keep them on the table.  Some look too much like Cheese Puffs. 

As I enjoy the colors of cocoons, I thought about the colors of many things that I enjoy.  From flowers to M&Ms to kittens to cocoons, color is a wonderful gift from God. 

As I enjoy the colorful arrangement of cocoons, I am reminded of a song by D C Talk "Color Blind".
Part of the lyrics are:
"Pardon me, your epidermis is showing
I couldn`t help but note your shade of melanin
I tip my hat to the colorful arrangement
Cause I see the beauty in the tones of our skin
We gotta come together, and thank the maker of us all"

When I was in high school, race problems were so bad that we had 'riot days' when many students stayed home. These days were announced by other students in advance. Some students would start racial fights on those days. Mother and Daddy always allowed me to stay home.  How sad it is that too often people use color to hurt and judge others.

Our children went to a local elementary school for six years before attending middle school.  Although the school had a good percentage of black students, our children simply accepted the fact that people have different colors of skin.  They grew up without a TV and were blessed not to be exposed to racism. 

After the first week at the middle school, one of our children came home and asked, "Why do white people hate black people?"  Oh dear.  How do you answer that question?  I can't remember exactly how we answered it.  We did talk about differences of skin color and differences in people.  We discussed that differences aren't due to race but to the way children are brought up by their parents or community.  We discussed that children that 'hate' people of another color are taught that by others - it is not normal.  It did strike me that in the elementary school, our children didn't notice a racism issue.  Within a week of entering a new school, they were asking questions about what they were hearing from other students.  

Our world is a broken world. 

I wonder what colors of skin we'll have in heaven, covering our new bodies?  What color will I be?  Will my skin be the same color?  Lighter?  Darker?  Will we all be one color?  I can't imagine everyone being one color.  One day I'll know ...

As has been said, "God created one race - the human race".  I'm thankful for the 'colorful arrangement' of skin colors. 

Genesis 1:26-28
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dr. Harry Pavulaan Posted a Letter to the Mailing List!

I subscribe to many lepidoptera mailing lists.  Many of the emails that come through are immediately moved to 'tended to' or simply deleted.  I don't have time to read all of them.  But a few minutes ago a letter was posted to a mailing list from Dr. Harry Pavulaan.  I immediately read it. 

That started me thinking - there are some people I'll stop doing nearly anything to listen to them.  They have so much knowledge and insight that it's an honor to learn from them.  Many of them have written books about butterflies and/or moths.  People like Dr. Thomas Emmel, Dr. Jaret Daniels, Marc Minno, Dr. Frank Davis, Dr. Chip Taylor, and so many more that I haven't named will always cause me to stop and listen or read what they have to say. 

I had hoped to meet another lepidopterist today, Dr. Andrei Sourakov, a professor at the University of Florida.  He wasn't able to make it because his baby became sick last night.  I was thinking about how disappointed I was (and thinking about the baby too) then started thinking about people and who we will always take time to listen to.  Some people will stop to listen to talks about birds, others cats, others ... well, every one of us seem to have a passion for something.

I'm thankful for those who have knowledge about butterflies and moths and take the time to share that knowledge.  Most work and live busy lives so taking time to share with others like myself is often a sacrifice for them.

Mary also took time to listen to her friend and mentor, Jesus.  Luke 10:39 "Mary, who also sat at the Lord's feet, and heard his word."  She stopped what she was doing to listen to Jesus.  Martha, her sister, also loved to listen to Jesus but let herself become encumbered with serving and missed the opportunity.  (That part is another whole story.)

While I am thankful for those who take the time to share about butterflies and moths, it's much more important that I take time to listen to Jesus, our Father, and the Holy Spirit.  I need to keep my passion for listening to Jesus more alive than my passion to listen to anyone or anything else.