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 Vol. 6, No. 6 

June 2004

~ Page 14 ~

Two Insects

By Hugo McCord

Image A tiny, frail, land-bound maggot, able only to wiggle, somehow transforms itself into a skillful flying machine, complete with antennae, gyroscopes and wings (Rutherford Platt, "Those Remarkable 'Two-Animal' Animals," Reader's Digest, July, 1970).

The pilot in that remarkable airship, flying faster than the eye can follow, executes a half-roll and lands upside down on the ceiling on six legs. From there, without the use of a runway, he can take off instantly. Helpless scientists can no more explain the change from larva to pupa to adult than they can explain the fly's aeronautical ability. When they speak of inborn "blueprints" or of "instruction data from the DNA," or of "the DNA code script" they are saying they have gone as far as they can, and have no answer without using the name "God."

Another example among thousands is the cicada, often called "the seventeen year locust." Cicadas have various cycles, with the longest being seventeen years. Almost exactly on May 24 each seventeenth year, these insects climb out of a seventeen-year period spent some 18 inches below the frost line underground. When they emerge they are still encased in a protective subterranean suit resembling plastic. After shedding the transparent suit, wings, never before used, but now ready for a new life, are dried in the breeze.

After mating, the female, equipped with a sharp blade, cuts under the bark of a twig, deposits her eggs, and then cuts the twigs three fourths through. As a result, the twig dies, falls to the ground, and carries the eggs to the soil. Then the eggs hatch, and the larvae dig into the ground.

The adults live only about three weeks, and never see their offspring. What makes them operate so? Their defense from being eaten by birds is an unbearable noise, equivalent to that of "a pneumatic hammer or a subway train screeching to a halt in an underground station." (Dr. James A. Simmons, Princeton University Auditory Research Laboratory, says the intense noise is 80 to 100 decibels measured 60 feet away.

The intense noise damages eardrums, driving away birds and all other animal life. But some source gave the cicada a tiny muscle, which automatically collapses his eardrum just before he "sounds off." Scientists know how the muscle operates, but they do not know how it could have "evolved" in one springtime to allow one generation of cicadas to mate and to preserve the species, nor can they explain the inborn seventeen year almanac which the cicada carries with him underground.Image

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