Wooly Bear: Another Everyday Miracle

Everybody’s favorite weather predicting caterpillar, the wooly bear, makes its way around Heatherhope Farm these beautiful autumn days. We are often disappointed to find out that its purported miraculous weather prognostication is a bust. A wide brown patch doesn’t always mean a warm winter; and a narrow patch doesn’t always insure a bitter cold one.

But there is another bona fide miracle wrapped up in this little body. This larval stage of the Isabella tiger moth, known to the nerds as a Pyrrharchia Isabella, munches its way around this time of year to find a place to spend the winter. And when the cold comes it does more than hibernate. It freezes solid. Wikipedia (a modern miracle) told me this:

The banded woolly bear larva emerges from the egg in the fall and overwinters in its caterpillar form, when it literally freezes solid. First its heart stops beating, then its gut freezes, then its blood, followed by the rest of the body. It survives being frozen by producing a cryoprotectant in its tissues. In the spring it thaws.

As my son, Jeremiah, said when at about 6 years of age he joined me to watch a documentary about black bears, and heard how they can sleep for months without losing bone and muscle tissue because of the way they recycle their urine, “Wow, that’s the perfect animal!”

It turns out God made plenty of perfect animals. The Isabella is an animal suited to the North and the artic, and there are many species of insects, fish, and amphibians that are equipped with special cryoprotectant chemicals that keep their tissues from dying in the super cold.

Let’s quit wishing God would come out of retirement and perform some miracles. Let’s just wake up to see them all around us, every day!

About John

John is a retired pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America who has served congregations for over 40 years, including in rural, suburban, campus ministry and urban settings. His love of Border Collie sheepdogs has been fortified by his many friendships with shepherds all around the world. Nothing he has ever or will ever accomplish is as significant as the patience God, his wife and his friends have shown in putting up with his deficiencies.
This entry was posted in Faith, Farm Diary, Featured, John's Posts, Pandemic Blog and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.