A walk outside is worthwhile. It is time spent wisely, and a slow walk in a wild place often yields surprises.
Two dear grandchildren needed something to do. In my naturalist voice, I said, “Let’s use our eyes, ears, noses, tongues and fingers and explore what’s happening in the backyard.” It worked.
Ants, weren’t surprising. The rough bark of an ash tree-ordinary. Waiting for an Oriole to come to the grape jelly feeder-too long. We needed something exciting.
We went to our 16-year-old prairie garden. The Northern bedstraw is blooming. Monarda caught my eye first. We rolled leaves between our fingers and nibbled on the tips to taste. Then we saw it. It takes time to really see nature.
We found exciting. A green caterpillar with yellow and black polka dots below two long black strips down its back amazed us. My naturalist partners were mesmerized with me.
A search today disclosed the name of this nearly three-inch caterpillar. We were admiring a Bedstraw Hawk moth caterpillar. (Hyles gallii) At this size, the caterpillar is nearly ready to pupate. It will burrow beneath the prairie garden and spend the remainder of summer and all of next winter in the safety of the earth beneath the prairie. Next growing season it will emerge as an adult Bedstraw Hawk moth. Like the caterpillar, it will be large. Its wingspan could be over 3 inches.
The Bedstraw Hawk moth lives on the nectar of monarda and other flowers. It is one of the 11,000 species of moths in the United States. It is true to its name. The female Bedstraw Hawk moth lays her eggs on the stems of Northern Bedstraw. Hatching caterpillars feed on Northern bedstraw. They live and grow eating this plant. While the adult Bedstraw Hawk moth pollinates Northern Bedstraw, its caterpillar dines on it and lives. Beautiful bedstraw is life food for Bedstraw Hawk moth caterpillars.
The Creator of both bedstraw and the Bedstraw Hawk moth ordered this relationship between plant and insect. Both organisms benefit, though the plant is partially eaten.
The same Creator has provided everlasting life food for humans. Jesus explained it this way. He said, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. (John 6:35)
Eating earthly bread will provide temporary nourishment. Jesus, the bread of life, provides each one of us with forever life. Life for eternity. As He created the beautifully designed Bedstraw Hawk moth caterpillar, His design for us is life-beautiful eternal life. Only He has the power to give it.