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Creation Lesson #6 - Designed Insects





Entomology is the study of insects, and its details leave us in overwhelming awe. The ancient Egyptians were so intrigued with insects that the beetle became their symbol for immortality. In our current abbreviated study we are indebted to the splendid new book, By Design: Evidence for Nature’s Intelligent Designer –The God of the Bible, by Jonathan Sarfati, Ph.D. We highly recommend this work that encompasses numerous fields of scientific investigation.


I.  Ingenious Fly Ear


Author Sarfati points out that the main mechanism for discerning the direction of a sound involves measuring the slight difference in the time of arrival of the sound at each ear, as well as the slightly greater intensity at the nearest ear.[1] The tiny female fly, Ormia ochracea, is able to track a cricket’s chirping in order to lay her eggs on him. To make this possible, a bridge like a flexible lever couples the fly’s eardrums together. The resulting resonance effectively increases the time difference about 40 times, and the eardrum nearest the sound vibrates about 10 decibels more strongly. Also, the fly’s flight programming links to its ear signals. Consequently, the fly can tell directions to within 20.[2]


II.  Incredible Flight of Insects


According to conventional analysis insects generate only about one-third to one-half of the lift needed to carry their weight. Now it has been discovered that leading-edge vortex generates extra lift by lowering the atmospheric pressure in that specific area. In insects LEV’s generate the extra lift needed because the vortex stays “stuck” to the leading edge of the wing long enough for propagation.[3] Author Sarfati adds: “Insect wings have a very complex motion, rotating and changing the camber. It required sophisticated pro-gramming from intelligent design.”[4]


III. Intricate Butterfly Aerodynamics


Two Oxford university professors trained red admiral butterflies (Vanessa atalanta) to fly freely between artificial flowers in a wind tunnel. They reported:

“…[F]ree flying butterflies use a variety of unconventional aerodynamic mechanisms to generate force: wake capture, two different types of leading-edge vortex, active and inactive upstrokes, in addition to the use of rotational mechanisms and the Weis-Fogh ‘clap-and-fling’ mechanism. Free-flying butterflies often use different aerodynamic mechanisms in successive strokes. There seems to be no one ‘key’ to insect flight, instead insects rely on a wide array of aerodynamic mechanisms to take off, maneuver, maintain steady flight, and for landing.”[5]


IV.  In-built Gyroscopes


Most insects have two pairs of wings, but flies (Diptera) have only one. Instead of the other pair, they have little sticks with knobs called halteres. These beat in antiphase to the wings (in reverse direction). The base of the haltere has mechanical sensors called campaniform (bell shaped) sensilla that quickly pass on flight information to the wing-steering muscles. A team led by Michael Dickinson, of the University of California at Berkeley, found that nerves from the visual system connect to the halteres. Thus they immediately respond, and their sensilla in turn pass that information to the flight muscles.[6]


V.  Intercontinental Migrating Monarchs


Shortly after hatching, the spectacular Monarch butterfly flies thousands of miles, navigating unerringly to reach a place it has never seen. Remarkably, they often land on the exact tree their parents came from. They can do this even if they are taken hundreds of miles off course. For the monarch to accomplish this feat he relies on an internal clock, as well as an in-built “almanac” of the sun’s position relative to a date and time. They can use this method even on a cloudy day, because they can also detect the polarization angle of any light. These butterflies also have a built-in magnetic compass, so they can sense directions from the earth’s magnetic field.[7]


VI.  Inverted Ants and Bees


Ants and bees walk upside down because of masterful design. Each foot has a moist pad (arolium) that can stick to a smooth surface like wet paper on a window. This is between two claws, shaped like a bull’s horns. The claws can catch onto a rough surface, and the arolium is retracted because it is not needed. On a smooth surface the claws retract via the claw flexor tendon, which causes the arolium to rotate and extend into position. The tendon also connects to a plate that squeezes a reservoir of fluid, forcing the liquid into the arolium to inflate it, so it presses on the surface.[8]



[1] Sarfati, Jonathan, By Design, Creation Book Publishers (www.creationbookpublishers) , pp. 42,43

[2] Mason, A.C., et al., Hyperacute directional hearing in a microscale auditory system, Nature, 410(6829):686-690, 2001

[3] On a wing and a vortex, New Scientist 156(2103): 56, 2004

[4] Sarfiti, op cit.

[5] Srygley, R.B., and Thomas, A.L., Unconventional lift-generating mechanisms in free-flying butterflies, Nature 420(6916):660-664, 2002

[6] Chan, W.P., Prete, F, Dickinson, M.H., Visual input to the efficient control system of a fly’s “gyroscope,” Science 280(5361): 289-292, 1998

[7] Science News, 27 November, 1999, p. 343

[8] Walter Frederlie, W., et al, Biomechanics of the movable pretarsal adhesive organ in ants and bees. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 98(11): 6215-6220, 2001

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