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08 Dec, 2022
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worms & wings

Worms & Wings! – Article by Gareth Jones

WONDERFUL WORMS & WINGS: BUTTERFLIES & MOTHS! – BY GARETH JONES

We drove slowly along a rough track in the Athi Basin, as we passed a small acacia tree, just then I noticed a large predominantly green worm with very beautiful luminous green markings holding onto a branch. After stopping and looking properly we noted that it was the worm that eventually transforms into an emperor moth.

Then I thought …..WOW! Isn’t this an amazing part of creation…. eggs hatch and tiny worms emerge and then consume large quantities of leaves from specific select trees, then grow into massive worms. The worms then make cocoons as they entirely close themselves in the cocoons to become pupa. Then after a short period they change completely as they wiggle out of their cocoons as flying creatures we call moths and butterflies. It is interesting to note that when moths and butterflies emerge from their cocoons, they only make a small narrow hole in their cocoon, this is to ensure that as they emerge their wings are pumped to full size. If there wasn’t a tiny cocoon hole, then no butterflies and moths would be able to fly at all, as their wings would remain crumpled and shriveled. It can take up to 2 hours before the wings are dry. What an incredible metamorphosis to change from a wiggly fat worm into a magnificent winged wonder.

Interestingly there are a number of people who believe that humans are all similar to greedy worms, until we find our true purpose that God has given us on Earth, and when we discover who we are, over a period of time we are transformed to use our gifts and talents for good purpose in making this world a better place for all to live together. We need to “spread our wings” to live a meaningful loving life to be a blessing to others.

Apart from my thoughts, worms and butterflies are also a vital part of many ecosystems. Many birds and creatures feast on worms in order to survive. Butterflies land on flowers to suck delicious nectar through their proboscis, and accidentally gather pollen on their bodies as they rub against the anthers. The butterflies then rub some of the pollen onto the next flowers they move to and then collect some more. Through this process, the butterflies are able to pollinate numerous flowers as they move along. Pollination allows plants to reproduce by producing seeds. In actual fact butterflies and moths are indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystem. I also believe that butterflies and moths were created with beautiful markings so that we can enjoy them, however some species have functional wing patterns like false eyes to ward off predators.

The challenge for us as humans is to know the habits of various species, the results will always be rewarding. At certain times of the year especially after some rains many worms hatch and live their life cycle to emerge as beautiful butterflies and moths in many parts of the park. I often sit quietly in places where there is a flutter of winged wonders and just observe their behavior. Very often other large species wander past, in fact we have even seen lions when watching tiny creatures. The Nairobi National Park is really a unique place with many wonderful surprises!

The park is open daily from 06h00 to 19h00.

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servalsGareth Jones – Nairobi Park Dairy – A passionate writer & photographer
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