Bulletin Banner

Return to March/April 2014 articles.

Article title

Article title: Fairy Circles are Design Features

A fairy circle--close up For countless years, mysterious rings up to ten feet in diameter have appeared by the thousands in the south African desert. Local mystics had ascribed the rings to supernatural fairies which were said to be providing cures and curses to the people of the area.

Research into the rings has now revealed that they are actually produced by termites, and the efforts of the termites are the mainstay of the fragile ecosystem of these deserts. In the spring, heavy rains fall in the area and cause small patches of grass to grow. Termites have nests deep underground and they eat the grass above their nests. This leaves a barren basin surrounded by grass. Since there is no vegetation in these barren areas and they are surrounded by a ridge of grass and dirt, water is trapped and the underground area around the termite nest is very wet. The grass on the edges sends down roots into this moist area growing so high that grass will sometimes be as much as three feet tall around the barren area.

Because of the protection the plants give them, the termites do not eat the plants surrounding the barren area — just the plants that start within the barren area. These large grass hedges provide wind-breaks and food for ants, bees, and mammals. They also stop erosion and stabilize the desert floor.

There are many insects, animals, and plants that allow desert areas to be filled with life. All of them are exquisitely designed for the dry and difficult conditions that the desert brings. Desert rings are just another evidence of God’s design. God calls us to look beyond paranormal explanations for the world in which we live, and recognize the wisdom, beauty, and design which speak eloquently of the wisdom of his creation (Psalm 19). Source: National Geographic, September 2013, page 20.

Picture credits:
Top: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Feenkreis_Marienflusstal_Namibia.jpg.
Bottom: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Feenkreise_Namibia.jpg