Come outside with me. Take a jar, a lid, a 3x5 card, a magnifying glass, some twist-ties, these pages, some patience, and your imagination. We’ll look at some of creation’s small wonders.
Find a spider that’s not on a web, and gently catch it. Put a jar over it, slide the 3x5 card under it, then turn the whole business over to flip the spider into the jar.
Look at the spider’s hair! That’s its “tool kit.” Each hair senses something about the spider’s world: temperature, humidity, wind speed, nearby chemicals, air currents, or vibrations in the ground. Without those hairs the spider couldn’t live long.
Lots of insects have sensory hair like that. Usually each hair has a purpose.
A female wolf spider has a very special purpose for the hair on her back. She carries her newly hatched spiderlings there. Each back hair has curved spines and/or knobby ends to help lock her little ones in place—amazing!
Make sure not to injure the spider, and let it out of the jar so it can be free.
Pine Pollen Puddles
Have you noticed any yellow puddles this spring?
They’re pollen puddles—plain old rainwater puddles with pollen floating in them. If you find one, it’s probably a pine pollen puddle, since pine trees are shedding their pollen right now.
Run your 3x5 card through the puddle, pick up some pollen, and look at it carefully with your magnifying glass. See those tiny grains? Each grain is alive, or at least was before it landed in the puddle. Each of those grains, when alive, could give life to a future pine seed that would grow into a pine tree.
Exactly how that happens is another amazing story. But here’s the point today: Each pollen grain is a spark of life, too small for us to see and too complicated for us to understand. There’s life in that puddle. Pollen, another small wonder.
Try to find some flowers that have seen better days. Their petals are drooping or dropping and they look like they’re dead. But they’re really not!
Once they looked and smelled a lot better. That attracted bugs to spread their pollen. But now they don’t need to attract anything, so they don’t look like much.
But they’re still alive. They’re making seeds. Part of each “dead” flower will become a seed that looks nothing like the original flower. The seed may be packaged inside a berry, a nut, or just a little dry seed case. In any case, these “dead” flowers are very much alive and are working their own little wonders.
Want to see what these flowers become? Very gently, tie a twist tie to the stem of several flowers. Make sure you can see the twist tie so you can find these plants again.
As often as you can—daily or at least weekly—go back and check those plants. You should be able to watch a small wonder: a flower becoming a seed.
Will that seed be in a nut, a berry, or something else? You’ll just have to wait and watch.
Take the jar and try to catch a house fly. Impossible? The fly sees you coming before you are close enough to catch it, right? That’s the whole idea of those bulging eyes. They protect the fly.
Each fly eye is made up of at least 4,000 smaller “eyes” or facets. Each facet gives the fly a picture of the world directly in front of it. Some facets point almost straight backwards. So, as you sneak up from behind, the back facets see movement, and the fly is gone.
If you can find a dragonfly, take a close look at its big eyes (if not, use your imagination!). Some dragonflies have 30,000 facets per eye! Dragonflies catch bugs as they’re flying. They need big bulging eyes to be able to spot their prey.
In fact, all bug-eyed monsters have just the right bug eyes for them. You can figure out what bugs do (fly? catch bugs? run from danger?) by noting where and how big their eyes are or are not. Try it. You’ll soon discover that bug-eyed monsters are another of creation’s small wonders.
Dancing Bug Clouds
If you’re lucky, you might see something that looks like a wisp of cloud dancing at eye level straight ahead. It looks like smoke, but it doesn’t blow away. It’s dancing in place. Scientists call that a swarm; I call it a bug cloud.
Catch a dancer in your jar and look at it closely. Does it have two wings? Then it’s a fly. Small flies often form bug clouds.
Are all the flies in this cloud alike? Probably. This is a mating cloud. It helps these flies find mates of their own kind. God gives each species its own special time and place to dance.
Watch the cloud; it’s dancing above something called a marker. A tree, bush, rock, grass clump, or even an obvious shadow can be a marker. Look beneath the cloud for the marker. If you find something moveable—like a rock—move it and watch the cloud move. If you can’t move the marker, cover it and watch the cloud break apart.
Bug clouds form off and on all summer. You’ve got several months to “play” with these small dancing wonders.
I hope you had a good time looking at creation’s small wonders. Now read Psalm 104 and praise God for those wonders, both large and small!
About the Author
Joanne De Jonge is a freelance writer and a former U.S. National Park Ranger. She attends West Valley Christian Fellowship in Phoenix, Ariz.