Take Up Insect Watching
Insects are among the most diverse animals on the planet, many possessing extraordinary abilities. Here are some kinds worth watching.
Dragonflies: It’s National Dragonfly Week in the UK. The BBC News posted a gallery of colorful winged dragons and damsels to whet your appetite for getting out into the wild to watch these superb flyers that can hover, dart, and move in all directions with precision.
Ants: As long as they don’t invade your kitchen, you should learn to respect ants for their pathfinding skills. Within their navigational toolkit, PhysOrg says that certain ants seem to have a photographic memory. If displaced from their starting point, they can use a series of “snapshots” they took when leaving, a kind of “photo library” to find their way back, experiments show.
Butterflies: Everyone loves butterflies: beautiful, graceful, harmless creatures that they are – and superbly engineered, as the Illustra film Metamorphosis reveals. Want to see how they reflect iridescent colors? Take a look at the 60,000x micrograph on Science Daily of a wing scale, with intricate patterns (photonic crystals) engineers would love to imitate.
Creationists should be among the best observational naturalists, because they believe creatures are designed by an all-wise, omnipotent Creator. Sure, after the curse due to sin, many species have become harmful, spreading disease, ruining crops, or causing pain to humans, but those are only a few out of the many thousands of harmless and beneficial varieties. The bad rap of a few does not diminish the fact that all insects are superbly designed.
Let’s teach children to appreciate and enjoy the beautiful colors and amazing abilities of insects by setting a good example: being observant and appreciative ourselves. And who knows: the secrets of these tiny creatures might improve our own lives someday, thanks to the willingness of many scientists to study their designs with an engineer’s eye. Biomimetic entomology would be a very good career path for many precocious youngsters. For those with a good eye and patience, insect photography can be a fun hobby. Look at the exceptional work of Bob Jensen for incredible photos of amazing insects (see this teaser).