The Puppet Spider

One of the more difficult things to change in nature is balance. Man has a hard time learning that fact and continues to struggle with it. In recent years in our part of the country, deer have multiplied to disastrous proportions because they have no natural enemies left to hold their numbers in check. In one of the state parks near us in Indiana, deer were starving to death because their numbers had gotten huge and they had eaten everything possible.

 In the natural world where man has not upset the balances, biologists find some incredible cases where design features hold a population in check so tragedy does not happen to a whole species. Recent studies in Costa Rica have shown us one of these that is remarkable. A wasp catches the spider, stings it to paralyze it, and glues an egg to the abdomen of the spider. The spider wakes up after a while and goes about its normal life of catching insects. After a week or more, the spider will suddenly change its behavior and, instead of making a normal web, it starts making a strangely shaped web--shaped more like a cocoon than a normal spider web. When the oddly shaped structure was built, the spider went to the center of the structure and died. The larva in the egg then emerges, eats the spider's body, and finishes spinning the cocoon the spider started. In a few days, the baby wasp emerges from the cocoon and flies away to repeat the process.

 This is the first time, according to the scientists studying the puppet spider, that there has been a change in behavior produced by a parasite. It appears that the spider is leaving out certain steps of his normal process of building a bug-catching web. How all of this is done is being studied extensively and may have all kinds of interesting and practical applications. The timing of all of this is critical and keeps a balance between the living organisms involved.

 Some may turn the spider into a human in their mind and make this a negative thing, but having systems that keep balance in nature is what keeps all organisms in an environment healthy and supplied with basic needs. We would suggest that the design systems present in nature to do this are too complicated and sophisticated to be the product of blind forces. The biblical injunction that "we can know there is a God through the things He has made (Romans 1:19-22) seems borne out more and more as we come to understand all of the systems built into nature to maintain balance.

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