Have You Seen the Speedy Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle?

Like a Tiny Jewel:

When I looked out of the garage door this afternoon I spotted what looked like a shiny emerald streaking across the blacktop. On closer Inspection I discovered it was an iridescent green tiger beetle.

Notice the white spots on the hard outer wing covers (elytra). There are three spots on each side of the beetle.

This beetle has the scientific name of Cicindela sexguttata. When translated from the Latin it means the beetle has six spots on it.

 

Color Changing:

 

One of the amazing things about this beetle is its ability to shift colors according to the angle of the sunlight that hits its wings. Below you can see it in a more bluish color. It ranges from green, to purple and blue.

My! What Big Eyes You Have! “The better to see you, my dear!”

One of the interesting features of this beetle is that they have large compound eyes adapted for capturing movement. Notice that the eyes are even wider than the thorax of the beetle.  With these they can quickly identify their prey and pursue it on their long nimble legs designed for speed.

Wow! That’s Fast!

One characteristic that sets these beetles into a category all their own is their speed. This little beetle can scurry across the ground at a rate that it can cover 125 times its body length in a single second. If I could do that I would be able to win in the Olympic running events! Not only can they run quickly, they can also fly.

My, What Big Teeth You Have! “The better to eat you, my dear!”

Notice the large front white mandibles. They are like curved swords with tiny sharp daggers along their edges. 

With these long mandibles the tiger beetle can quickly subdue their prey. Not only can they pierce and grab the creatures they pursue, they can also tear it up into tiny pieces to be swallowed. Note: Some of these beetles can even get your attention by biting you when you try to pick them up, if you can catch them as they speed by.

Let’s Get The Digestion Started Early!

Not only do these beetles break apart their prey, they also spit out a digestive juice onto their food before they swallow it. This actually begins the digestion process so it won’t take so long to get the nutrients into their energy supply.

If You See Me, Let Me Be!

These beetles are not your enemy! Gardeners are fond of these creatures since they reduce the amount of harmful insects, spiders and other creatures that creep into their gardens. Some of their favorite food includes caterpillars of moths and other types of beetles that eat up the leaves and fruit of you garden. They spend the daylight hours zipping around looking for invaders to consume.

You Must Have Been A Beautiful Baby…………Not!!!

One of the most interesting things about these beetles is how they begin their five year life span. After emerging from their eggs the larvae dig deep vertical pits in which to hide. These can range from 8″ to about three feet in depth. The larvae are kind of shaped like an “S”. Their heads are very large, in fact they completely cover the tops of the holes in their vertical shafts. The next part is my favorite!

Jack-In-The Box:

When I was a child I was startled when I first saw a Jack-In-The- Box. When It popped out after the music stopped I was shocked by its quick emergence. In a similar way, the beetle larvae of the tiger beetles sit inside their tubes waiting for unsuspecting prey to pass by. When they do the larvae quickly pop out and snatch their prey with enormous mandibles. They then pull it down into their deep pit homes to consume at their leisure. The larvae can spend up to a year in these pits until they get fat enough to go into their pupa stage for an amazing transformation into an adult insect that usually emerges in the Spring of the year.

Ecologically Important!:

As you think about the many creatures you see around you it is not long before you see how important they all are to other organisms. Though these beetles eat many other types of insects and spiders, they also are the food of other creatures. As adults there are few creatures fast enough to catch them. I really had to be quick to catch the one I found for closer inspection.They are occasionally captured by spiders in their webs and also by birds. In their larva stage they are often dug up by skunks, moles, grackles, and sandpipers. Beetles are very high in protein needed by the organisms that eat them.

By Design:

When we think further about the whole situation we can clearly see a pattern of an Intelligent Designer. When God created each creature He had a purpose in their introduction to the environment. Each creature is part of a bigger plan. They are all inter-related. Think of the complex food webs that exist around you. If any one part were removed it would cause chaos in the whole system.

Get Out Your Binoculars!

In one of the interesting articles I read about these beetles was one that shared some tips for observing them feed. I was surprised to learn that they recommended using binoculars and sitting near a sandy pathway. Once you spot a tiger beetle scurrying along back off about 10 to 20 feet and use your binoculars to watch it. It will soon slow down when not threatened by your presence and begin its natural feeding process. In this way you can see it capture its prey. They seem to more plentiful in areas with sandy soil such as along pathways and beaches. Some species actually prefer the sandy beaches along the shore line of the ocean and lakes, rivers and streams. Interestingly, if you try this you will probably notice that the beetles tend to take flight when you get too close. When they land they usually face back to where you are standing. After you stand still for a little while they do not feel threatened. In this manner you can more likely observe their natural behaviors.

 

If you want to read more about this you can check out the ASU website and read the article How to Observe Tiger Beetles. It’s a good read.

How to Make an Origami Quadra-Sphere

Discovering New Forms:

This past week I have been experimenting with several methods for forming geo-forms from paper. While fooling around with the paper I came up with a new way to make a sphere. Each base unit has four arms for attachment, thus the “Quadra” name.

 

Above is a picture of a space station made with seven spheres and connectors.

 

Above you can see the base spheres used for the project.

 

Let’s Learn How to Fold the Base Units for Constructing a Sphere:

For each sphere you will need at least two sheets of colored copy paper (you could also use white).

Next you will fold the paper top down to the bottom.

Next fold the right side to the left quartering the sheet of paper.

 

Cut off the extra end piece to form rectangles. Then cut in half to

get four squares from each sheet of paper.

 

Now that you have the squares let’s turn them into base units.

Begin by X-ing one side of the paper. Then flip it over and fold a cross in the center of the paper to form the water-balloon base’

 

Lay the fold on its side with the pointed end down. Then fold up the bottom to the middle of the top and crease it well.

Next, open the fold and pinch the four corners so it forms a mini table top.

Then depress the middle while squeezing the sides to sink fold the center.

 

Now you have your base unit., we will make six of these before the gluing part.

Now let’s do the gluing:

Place glue on just the small triangle region of the star points like this.

Then add another unit like the following:

Keep adding units in this same fashion until all the points are covered.

Want to Go to a Grander Scale?

After making several spheres you may want to create a larger sculpture. To do this you will need connector units. These are easy to make by just folding a square of paper into a inverted water balloon base. These slide right into the slots of the ends of the sides of the spheres.

You can vary the sizes of the squares used to make the connectors for different looks.

Add as many spheres as you like to make long chains or larger spherical constructions.

 

Consider the Design.

Whenever I see designs in nature I am reminded that each design needs a designer. I find it hard to believe that this is all by chance. It seems more logical to assume that a powerful, wise, careful, Designer created all things.

We are currently studying the design structure of atoms in my class at school, and have noticed each element follows a certain pattern to form the basic units of the structure of the element. Even though we can’t see these microscopic units we can use models to show how they are constructed using Bohr models and other atomic models. As you construct your own forms remember how complex the designs of our Maker are seen all around us. It takes a lot of wisdom and power to create things from nothing.

The very observable designs in Creation demand a Creator. I hope you know Him as I do. He has plans for your life and future.

Colossians 1: 16-17

“For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things were created through Him and form Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”

The Amazing Resurrection Fern

Rise Again:

On a recent trip my wife and I took to the states of Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi, we discovered and observed many wonderful jewels of creation. In this post I would like to introduce you to the one that made the largest impression on me.

Have You Met Pleopeltis polypioides?:

This amazing plant that God created reminds us of the historical event of the rising of Jesus Christ from the Dead celebrated world over at Easter time. These emerald beauties demonstrates God’s design in wonderful ways. The scientific name of this plant is Pleopeltis polypioides. The are also known as Miracle Fern and Little Gray Polypod.

Look at this plant. It looks dead and all dried up.  This is the Resurrection Fern in times of drought or the dry seasons of the year.

 

The above plants show what happens in a dry spell.

Watch the Transformation:

What a wonderful change comes to pass as soon as the rain appears.

 

 

Interesting Facts About the Resurrection Fern:

It can be found all over the Southeastern part of the United States as well as in some parts of South America and Africa.

It loses up about 75% of its water content during a typical dry period but scientists believe it can extend this ability to around 97% in extreme droughts.

Scientists believe it can remain in a dormant state for as long as 100 years.

It usually grows above the ground on the trunks and branches of trees. It can also grow other other surfaces where it can get a grip with its rhizomes (root system).

It shrivels and curls up when it dries out with the underside of the leaves outward. In this fashion they can instantly absorb water when it rains or gathers on the tree it grows on.

There are over 1,200 varieties of Resurrection plants found all over the world.

These ferns are “Epiphytes“….(plants that grow above the ground, supported on other plants).

Resurrection Ferns are not parasitic.  They do not acquire their food from the host plants upon which they grow. They do, however, benefit from the nutrients that flow down the trunks and off the leaves of the host plant when the rain and dew gather there.

Don’t try to find seeds for these plants. They reproduce by spores which they release into the air as the spore cases under the leaves burst open. They can also be propagated by dividing the rhizomes.

These plants are often found on live oak trees as well as cypresses. Though these are their favorites, they can also grow on rocky surfaces and many different kinds of plants. They just need a good place to anchor  their rhizomes and find water.

This large oak tree above a restaurant was covered with Resurrection Fern. 

Some Other Things I Learned About These Plants.

If you take the time to look on-line you will discover that these plants are often purchased by herpetologists (scientists that raise and study reptiles and amphibians). They use these plants when creating a moist environment in their terrariums used to house their reptiles and amphibians. If you have ever been to a zoo and gone into the reptile and amphibian displays you may have seen these plants growing along side mosses and other water loving plants which add beauty to the display as well as provide a great way to keep the terrariums moist for the creatures that live in them.

They Went Where?!!!

Did you know that these plants have traveled to outer space? They were actually taken into space aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery back in 1997 to see how the plants would respond to zero gravity.

Good Friends with the Mosses:

One study found a strong relationship between the Resurrection Fern and Mosses. It seems that they share the water that the mosses hold like a sponge. It seems like they may share the same space and probably help each other grasp the surfaces of the trees they grow on by providing a lattice work of rhizomes for the mosses to anchor themselves.

They Have Medicinal Uses:

These little plants have been used medically for thousands of years. The ancient Aztecs used them as a diuretic, against renal stones, cystitis and liver infections. They also show anti-inflammatory properties. They have been used to resist the growth of bacteria, to treat headaches, gum diseases and dizziness. They even hold possibilities of being used in the treatment of cancer. Who knows what other benefits these plants may possess for those who continue to study them?

Have You Considered the Benefits of the Resurrection?

Though this plant seems to rise from the dead, it in fact doesn’t completely die out. In the case of Jesus Christ, however, He really died and then rose again to life. He is the only one to have power over life and death. He also died for a purpose. He died so that you could experience spiritual and eternal life. His death paid the price for man’s sins and provided an opportunity for us to know and experience the true God. By believing in the person and work of Jesus Christ and trusting Him for your future, you also can have a resurrection experience. You can be brought to life spiritually as well as have the assurance of eternal life when your days on earth are over. A great way to find out more about the Resurrection and its value to you would be to read chapter 15 of the Book of the Bible, Corinthians. If you have never thought much about the reality of this event, it was witnessed by over 500 people. It has been an important event celebrated for more than 2000 years. Those who believe in the Resurrection have seen amazing transformations in their own lives as well as have experienced hope for the future and energy for daily living.

Origami Reindeer from a Brown Paper Grocery Bag

Recycle Your Grocery Bags

I recently visited a very large grocery market in Texas called Central Market. I was with family members who were buying stuff for a Thanksgiving. Needless to say, since we were buying groceries for the whole extended family and friends we had a bunch of grocery bags when we got home. So….what do you do when life gives you a ton of Grocery bags?….Turn them into something useful.

Christmas Is Coming:

Since our next celebration will be Christmas I thought it would be fun to make and give my family and friends an early Christmas gift: Origami Reindeer, from a model I created while experimenting with folding.

Learn the Base Folds:

One of the first things I learned when exploring origami was that almost every fold begins with one of the origami bases. In this model you need two Bird Bases and one Fish Base. The bird bases must be the same size and the fish Base is made from a square one sixth the size of the squares used to make the bird bases.

Let’s Begin:

To start our project you need a brown paper bag, scissors, white glue, and a little patience. First cut out the bottom of the sack and down each of the side panels. This will give you enough paper to make several Reindeer. Take one of the side panels and place it printed down then fold it in half.

Next we will create two squares by folding the ends diagonal and cutting off the squares:

Open the rectangles and cut in half to form your squares.

How to Fold The Bird Bases:

Now we can make the two Bird Bases needed for the body of the deer. Begin by placing one of the squares in the diamond position. Now fold an “X” on the paper with two crossing valley folds. Then, turn the paper over and place it like a book, square position. Now fold a cross by folding the top to the bottom and one side to the other.

Set Up Your Tent:

Now place the four corners of the paper on the table so it looks like a tent.

Squeeze It Into an Inverted Water Balloon Base:

Grab each end of the tent and bend your hands downward. This will collapse the form into the inverted water balloon base:

Open Side Toward You:

Next lay the base on the table so the open side faces you. Squash it flat and then fold an Airplane Point using the top layers of each side to seal the bottom. Turn the paper over and fold the same on that side.

Think of an Ice Cream Cone:

Fold down the part that would be the ice cream at the top of the Cone. Bend it down the flip the paper and bend it down on the other side. This will create a hinge fold and provide a pivot place for forming the petal folds to follow.

Put the “ice cream” part back up. Now swivel the paper so the Cone is up. Pretend that the paper is an alligator’s head. Unfold the top layer and stick your fingers into the jaws on both sides. Bend the alligator’s top jaw back towards you. Reform the Cone shape to form a diamond. Do this on the other side of the paper as well.

Let’s Make the Legs:

Place the Bird Base so that the split end is toward you. Use the middle horizontal crease as your guide when folding the next fold. Bend the left side out diagonally until it lines up with the horizontal crease in the middle of the base. Repeat on the other side up the base. Now, flip the paper and do the same folds on the reverse side to create hinge folds. Again, these folds will let the paper know where to bend when you do the pop folds.

Next, pop fold the side pieces so they go to the inside of the fold like this:

Make the Legs Skinny:

Next we will make the Legs skinnier by folding them in half diagonally out toward the sharper point. Again, Pop fold these inside and repeat on both sides of the top and bottom of the figure.

Make Two of These:

Let’s Start with The Back Region:

To form the back of the deer you need a tail. To make the tail fold the top layer down like this:

Tip the Top:

Next fold down just the tip of the top point like this:

Let’s Finish the Tail:

To form the uplifted tail we need to fold up the tail region vertically. Be sure to bend it up on both sides and clear up under the rump region. Now grab the tip of the tail and bend it up into a hold fold. This should look like this:

Let’s Make The Front of the Body:

Take your other Bird Base and fold down the top layer so it looks like this:

Pull both legs downward and crease the fold down the center axis like this:

Tuck it In:

Now open the fold and fold in the point of the end that has the diagonal layer above it like this:

Bend up the skinny end of the paper to form the neck.

Hood Fold the Neck to the Outside:

Now that the paper is hinge folded it will be easy to pull up the hood to center the body under the neck: It should look like this:

Some Assembly Required:

Yes, just like so many of those toys you receive as gifts, some assembly required! It’s not too difficult, however. Since brown paper is very porous it will require a bit more pressure when gluing and will need to be held a little longer while it sets. Here is how to assemble the body:

Add Glue to Flatten the Form:

The pictures following show you where it is best to add some glue:

Squeeze and Hold!:

After applying the glue, press down on the side and apply pressure for at least thirty seconds to bind the form together.

If I Only Had a Head!

Now we need to make the head. Using the smallest square of paper, (it should be one sixth the size of the squares used for the body pieces), we will turn it like a diamond with the printed side up. Fold an Airplane Point on one side. Open it and do the same on the other end of the paper. Now, turn the paper over and pull the two point together like this:

Here is the Finished Fish Base:

Open the Sharp Pointed End:

Split One End to Form the Horns:

Fold the two outer edges down and flip the ears forward. Bend the horns up on each side of the paper. Fold them in half diagonally to make them skinnier. Add bends to shape the antlers. Flip the ears back so they surround the base of the antlers. Pinch the ends of the ears to shape them.

It’s Time to Get Our Heads On Straight:

Now that you have finished the head you only need to glue it on to the neck. Adjust the position that most captures the characteristics of a deer. Squeeze the cheeks until the glue dries……and…….you have a deer.

Time to Consider the Significance of the Deer:

Every time I fold a deer I am reminded of the song entitled, “As the Deer”. Maybe you have heard it to. The lyrics are taken from Scripture and read, “As the deer panteth for the water. So my soul longeth after Thee. You alone are my heart’s desire. And I long to worship Thee…”

The Scripture from which this song derives is Psalm 42:1-5:

NIV “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, the living God.”

I don’t know where you are in your relationship with the God of the universe, but I can tell you, in knowing Him and accepting His free gift of salvation, your soul can be fully satisfied just like King David was when he penned these words long ago. He has been satisfying souls with the living water since the beginning of time.

Make More and Share:

After I made a bunch of deer I gave several away. Some actually went back to the market where we got the bags. Others went to a work site where several employees were begging for a deer to put in the work cubical. Others went to friends and families. I just folded up a bunch more to give to some students that are taking my origami class at the Library. It’s amazing how many people you can meet giving away origami creations. Who do you know would enjoy one? Why not make a large herd of deer to give away. Spread some cheer!

Three-D Origami Star Ornament

Something New From Something Old:

I love to create new things from old things. In this blog post I have found a new way to combine the units I featured before in the *Eco-Balls and *Octo-Wreath blogs. You can see how to make both the solid and swivel units in those blogs. For this project: It will take six units: two of them swivel units, and four solid ones.

*. See Sept. 17th and 18th of 2017 to see the former blog posts.

Make the Units: Follow the directions in the earlier blog posts.

After folding and gluing the units you will need to form two three piece units. Place a swivel unit in the middle and glue two solid units to the ends like this:

Square It Up!:

Next, you will glue the two flat square surfaces together after flipping one over to match the other surface. Notice that the center part of each of the three-piece units is a flattened square.

Add a Loop: or…Try “No String Attached”:

Take a sewing needle and thread it. Insert the needle through one of the tops of the star and form a loop so you can hand it from a tree or use it in a mobile. These stars are also attractive with no strings attached as center pieces.

Old Things Become New:

While I was creating this new project I thought back to how God, in His mercy, has transformed my life since I accepted His free gift of salvation.

As much as I delight in creating new things from the old, I am reminded of God’s wonderful plan of redemption. He takes our old sinful lives and transforms us through salvation.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here!” I Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Said another way in the New Living Translation:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has come.”

I hope you have come to know Christ as your Savior and LORD as I have. If not, He offers this free gift to all who believe in Him.

John 3:16 says it like this:

“For God so loved the world that He gave a His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

An Origami Challenge for You:

Can You Find More Ways to Combine the Units?:

Here is a challenge to all my origami friends. Can you find other ways to combine these units? I would love to see your creations. Origami is fun because you are always discovering new ways to fold paper using the techniques and folds you have made before. If you find a new way, send me a picture so I can add it to this blog.j

Here’s Another New Combination:

Triangle Pyramid Creations

Horn Toad

In one of my earlier posts I showed you how to fold paper pyramids. In that post I showed you some of the creations you could construct by combing the units. This past week I have been trying to create some paper creatures to show my class Some of the possible things you can make with pyramids.

It Takes Some Patience !

One thing I have learned early on is that it takes a lot of patience and time to create a unique form. Since we have several known creations to use as models found in God’s creations we can try to mimic them or try to capture some of the design features while modifying them to fit our purposes and materials. As I strive to create a believable creature I am reminded how far from the real living thing that my model has achieved. God’s creatures are wonderfully made and designed to function. They are alive! Even though my forms are far from His craftsmanship I can appreciate the creativity and pleasure of creating a form. Here is another of my creations:

The Triangle Tarantula

It’s interesting to consider how each creature is created according to a specific symmetry pattern. In each of these models we see bilateral balance. Each time I added a pyramid element to one side of the figure I had to add one to the opposite side to create balance. As I have studied art and science I have encountered symmetry in every creature formed. Each symmetry type has its advantages. Animals with bilateral symmetry prove be the fastest. Consider the horse, falcon, and cheetah. Animals with radial symmetry, however, are slow moving but able to defend themselves from all sides as well as seek their prey in any direction. Consider the starfish, sea anemone, and sea urchin. As you can see, symmetry plays an important role in all design.

Shape Signifies a Creator

Each building block must be designed to go with the others to fulfill its purpose. In this creation all of the building blocks were triangular. Some were three- sided units while others were four-sided. Notice that they are rigid. Now think of your body. It is also created from building blocks. These are cells. Rather than just two types of building blocks, God has used many. We have skin cells, nerve cells, bone cells, muscle, and more. Rather than being rigid forms these are pliable. They can move, bend, and carry out various functions. And..they are living and able to grow and reproduce more when they have out-lived their usefulness.

On Display for All to See

Each time I share a blog post I am reminded that it will be seen by many. Each person reading a post will have individual responses according to their personalities, worldview, and interests. I love sharing the things I am interested in and for which I have a passion. Think now of God’s creation. What do you think He wants to display to us? In the Book of Romans, chapter one, the Apostle Paul made several interesting statements about creation. The very character of God can clearly be seen in what He has created.

Why Not Try to Make Some Creatures of Your Own?

Since I have already shown you how to make the four-sided pyramids in an earlier blog, let me show you how to make a triangular pyramid.

Start With A Sheet of Paper

Fold the right hand side to the left but do not crease it all the way to the top. Just press on the bottom of the paper to create a crimp mark.

Then take the right hand side and bring it in to the crimp mark. You are now going to make another crimp mark a third of the way up the right side.

Now use the bottom crimp mark as a hinge and fold the bottom left hand side up to touch the crimp mark that is about a third of the way up the paper. Set the crease.

Then bring the other side up to the diagonal edge of the first side so the paper has an airplane point at the bottom.

Now to the Cutting

Take a pair of scissors and make a horizontal cut from the top of the fold on the right hand side all the way go the left.

Now open the paper and cut off the side panels and you have an equal-sided triangle.

Helpful Hint: Save the Side Panels to Make Smaller Pyramids

Now to Fold From 2-D to 3-D

Take the triangle and fold the bottom right hand side to the left and crease. Twist the triangle to the right and repeat two more times. Thus will divide the pyramid in half three ways and create a crease mark for a reference for further folding.

Now Let’s Get to the Point

We are going to fold an airplane point on each of the three points of the triangle.

Back to the Top

After folding the point, bring the sharp end back down to the blunt end and set a dark crease. Repeat this on each point. Hint: Don’t forget to fold end to end on the last point even though from the top it looks like it has already been folded. The crease is only on one layer and needs to travel to all levels. Easy way to check it: Look in the center of the large triangle and you should see a small triangle in the creases in the middle of the paper. If one side of the smaller triangle is missing that indicates the point that still needs to be folded back from sharp to blunt end.

This Will Do In a Pinch

Open up your folds and pinch the middle of each of the three sides. It should pop up to look like this:

You Are Now Ready for Glue

To finish the pyramid you need to add glue. Hint: A little glue is better than a lot. Adjust your glue bottle so you can create a glue line about as thick as a pencil lead. A little glue will set almost immediately while more glue takes a lot longer to set as well as it oozes out and damages the appearance of the finished form. Apply a thin line of glue like in the following picture. The only part of the pyramid that touches is the edge.

Place glue between each of the three sides then carefully align the edges and bring them together into the pyramid form. Hold it firmly for about thirty seconds and the glue should be dry.

Finished Form

How to Use the Side Pieces

If you want to create some smaller pyramids you can take the side strips you cut off earlier and fold the point at the bottom to the top of the same side and it forms another pyramid. Just cut off the one side strip that remains. The pictures below show the process:

 

Interlocks Are Great For Legs

If you want to create long slender legs for your creatures you will have to learn to Interlock. If you take one pyramid and put it above another facing the opposite direction the two pyramids will fit together like the cogs on a gear. The gluing is a little more difficult but is done in the sane manner as before, only that you are using the surfaces of two pyramids to come together instead of one. An Interlock looks like this:

Now It’s Your Turn

By using the outer surfaces of each triangle for gluing tabs you can combine the pyramids in many ways to create your creatures. If you look at the two creatures in this post you can probably locate the interlocks and the standard pyramids. Now it’s time for you to try it. I would love to see what you create.

Origami Page Corner Bookmarks: Easy and Fun!

 

Do You Like to Read? 

One of my favorite things to do is to take some time to read a book. I often challenge my students by reminding them that they can learn a lot by reading, and even improve their writing skills by seeing how others communicate. Of course, my favorite Book is the Bible, and I try to spend time in it each day. Funny thing is, though, it is easy to forget where you left off the day before or the next time you pick up the book you are reading.

One solution to this problem is to make a page corner bookmark.

An Easy, Fun, Project!

If you want to get kids interested in reading, this is the project for you. It is easy and can be quickly done. It also allows kids to come up with their own designs after they have done one with your help.

Let’s Make a Frog Bookmark:

Begin with a sheet of green colored copy paper. Fold it in half. Next, fold the open sided corner diagonally over to the opposite edge to create a triangle that when open will form a square. Since the paper is doubled at this point you will get two squares to make two bookmarks if desired.

See Below for Written Instructions:

Tuck and Fold:

 

Next, take one of the squares and return it to the triangle shape. Make sure the point of the triangle is at the bottom and it is the open side. Next, fold the right hand corner to the bottom of the triangle. Do the same with the left side. Now, fold the top layer bottom point of the right side up to the top of the form. Do the same on the left side.

Open and Hide:

Now you will open up the two top layers and fold the bottom point (just the top layer) to the top of the triangle. Next, return the two side wings to cover the flap you just folded. The next part is the hardest. Tuck the little flaps on top up inside the open pocket on the bottom of the triangle. Do this on the left and right and it should look like this:

 

Now for the Fun!

Now that you have formed the frog’s body he needs eyes, a chin, and a tongue. The following pictures show you how to make and assemble the parts to make your frog.

Use the scissors to curl the tongue like you would a ribbon. It adds a little character to your frog’s personality.

Mark Your Spot:

After making your bookmark you can insert the top corner of a page where you are reading to mark your spot. *Some bookmarks mark the bottom right corner. It’s best to add a couple pages into the pocket so it gets a firm grip.

Create Your Own Designs:

After making this bookmark, try developing some of your own. Below are a few I made this last week: Which of the following is your favorite?

*Notice that the fox above and the mouse below are bottom corner markers.

Makes Some for Others:

Now that you know how to make a bookmark, why not make several and give some away?

A neat way to encourage others to read God’s Word, the most important Book that has ever been written, is to give some of these to children and ask them what they have read during the last week. Share with them some of the nuggets of truth you found while reading God’s Word and encourage them to read it too. They might want to start with their favorite Bible story. Show them where it can be found in the Bible and ask them to come back next week and share some of the interesting things they found while reading the Bible.

This makes a fun project for DVBS, Summer Camps, Day Camps, School crafts, something to make and give to people in hospitals and nursing homes. What ways can you think of using them?

Braconid Wasps: Small but Mighty

Look what I found in my garden this morning.

I have noticed recently that a lot of my tomatoes and tomato vines have been disappearing. One of the gardener’s worst enemies, the Tomato Horn Worms, have been taking away a lot of my harvest. These little green “worms”, actually caterpillars of  the Tobacco Horn Worm Moth, are very destructive! Their scientific name, “Manduca quinguemaculata”, actually means “Big Eaters”. And believe me, they live up to their name!  Well…., they have met their match!

David vs. Goliath:

My eyes were quickly attracted to the white color of the insect cocoons protruding from the backs of the caterpillars. These white cocoons are the result in an attack from an unlikely little “garden helper”. The female Braconid Wasp flies in and finds the caterpillar and then sticks her ovipositor, (tubular organ through which a female insect deposits eggs), into the skin of the tomato worm. These tiny pointed structures look like stingers and often do carry chemicals that are harmful to the worms they attack. When the eggs hatch the larvae feed from the inside of the caterpillar until they reach the size needed to form a cocoon. The cocoons are the white structures on the backs of the caterpillars. When the wasps are fully formed they emerge out of the cocoons and start looking for flower nectar.  As I viewed pictures of the wasps I was amazed at how small they were in relation to the caterpillars they parasitize. They are barely half the size of the caterpillar’s eye! This reminds me of the battle between David and Goliath. One of the combatants was much larger than the other in yet the smaller was the victor. In the case of David, it was God’s intervention that led to the victory. Size is not always an advantage in the natural world.

More Than One:

It wasn’t very long after discovering the first parasitized worm that I saw another. The white color of the cocoons allows you to see them quickly. Most of the time it is very difficult to locate the worms eating up your garden. I usually find them by seeing where they have been feeding and then look for their “poop” deposited all around where they have been feeding. I look for them on the stems or under the leaves nearby. They seem to be easiest to locate in the morning or just before the sun sets when they more actively are feeding. Did you know the wasps actually also use the “poop” to locate their prey as well? Rather than looking for the feces they actually have keen smell detectors that can pick out chemicals in the waste of the worms. In fact, their ability to detect chemicals has come to the attention of scientists who have found other ways to use their super powers.

Bombs Away!

The ability to “sniff out” chemicals emitted by their prey by smelling the fumes from the feces of the worms has been used as a way to detect the presence of explosives. After being trained to recognize the chemicals used in bombs the wasps demonstrate different behavior when in the presence of these chemicals allowing those looking for these dangerous objects to locate and dismantle or destroy them before they cause any harm to those who would encounter them otherwise. Isn’t it amazing that such a tiny insect could demonstrate such profound abilities? I think that just goes to show how amazing the insect’s Creator is. Who could design such amazing animals?

Have You Had Your Flu Shot?

Something that I learned in my research of these wasps that was interesting is that they actually use chemical warfare. While inserting their eggs in the host caterpillar they often also inject viruses. These viruses compromise the worm’s immune system. As the viruses develop in the worms they retard the growth and slow the worm down allowing the emerging larvae to have an easier time consuming their host. When we get a flu shot at the doctor’s office we are actually getting weakened forms of viruses in the injection process. Because they are weakened before being placed in the serum, they allow our bodies to recognize the virus.  Our strong immune systems create antibodies to prevent any future attacks by the virus thus helping us avoid the devastating effects of the disease. In the case of the worm, however, the worm gets a strong version of a virus that has complete control in its new environment.

Would You Like to Have These Helpers in Your Garden?:

For those looking to grow vegetables without the need for pesticides, organic gardeners, it is good to know what attracts these wasps to your garden. In some cases you can actually order them on-line. Trichogramma pretiosum is the scientific name of some that are often purchased on-line. A better way to get them in your garden is by attracting them with flowers!

Flower Power:

Since the adult wasps feed on the nectar of flowers, you can add plants to your garden like: carrots, radishes, dill, mustard and turnips. These plants naturally attract the wasps. When the wasps come in for dinner they look around, (actually “smell around”), and detect the presence of the caterpillars on other plants in your garden. They alter their feeding and fly over to parasitize the caterpillars insuring another generation of wasps to do the same job next year.

Thank God for the Small Things:

As I read through the Bible in my daily devotional time I have discovered many places where God shows us how He works using the smallest things and what seems to us as “insignificant” to accomplish major tasks. As I think about these tiny wasps overpowering their huge host, I think of passages like the following:

I Corinthians 1:27

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” 

Remember that God can help you face your greatest fears and lead you to victory. He delights in using those who are humble to do His work.

Thank God for His Creation:

As you go through the coming week, think of the tiny, insignificant things around you; things you may not even see but have a profound affect on your life. From the smallest virus to the largest animals, each has a place in the overall design of Creation. Don’t miss the message that God is trying to communicate to you through His Creation, His Word, and His Son, Jesus Christ. Your life can be changed by responding to the message.

Newly Emerged Wasps:

After keeping the caterpillars that had the white cocoons on their backs for a day inside a mason jar, this is what emerged. There were at least 20 tiny wasps flying and crawling around inside the jar. It will be interesting to see how many more emerge. They are so tiny! They are only about as long as the length of a letter typed size twelve on your computer.

Blue-Winged Digger Wasp: Friend or Foe?

 

Should I Be Afraid?

In  a couple of my earlier posts I shared with you my encounters with aggressive Hornets. Those were frightening experiences. Though some wasps and hornets can be aggressive there are exceptions to the rule. The Blue-Winged Digger Wasp is such an example. Even though they can sting, and will, if attacked, they rarely show any aggression towards humans.

The Gardener’s Friend:

Blue-Winged wasps are very helpful to have in your garden. No matter what you are growing the plants need to be pollinated. Wasps and other insects help when they come in to gather nectar from the flowers. At the same time they pick up the pollen and carry it on the tiny hairs on their bodies to the next flower they visit. In this way the important pollen is placed where it is needed to insure a future generation of the plant that provided the pollen grains.

Rose and Hibiscus Gardeners Celebrate:

If you happen to like roses and hibiscus and other flowers you should be glad to have some Blue-Winged Wasps around. They specialize in preying upon one of the gardener’s worst enemies, the Japanese Beetle. These destructive beetles eat the foliage and flowers of flowering plants often killing them or making them less attractive by tearing them apart in their feeding frenzy.

How Do They Do It?: (Why are they also known as Digger Wasps?)

When an adult female Blue-Winged Wasp is ready to have babies she drops to the ground and starts looking for a beetle grub buried under the ground. When she detects its presence she digs into the ground and stings the grub. This paralyzes the grub and immobilizes it for transfer. The wasp then digs another hole, lays and egg on the grub, and reburies it. Several months later, the baby wasp larva emerges and finds itself in contact with its first meal, a fresh beetle larva. The sting of the wasp also acts as a preservative keeping the larva in stasis until needed for food. Obviously, the baby beetle larva never grows up to eat flowers but helps in propagating a new generation of Blue-Winged Wasps. 

Distinguishing Characteristics:

   Lighting Greatly Affects Their Coloration:

All of the following pictures are of the same two wasps. See how differently they look as the lighting is shifted from different angles. As the wasps move about in the wild their colors will change as the light hits them in different positions. As you probably know, color plays an important part in announcing to other creatures danger and other information. Iridescence, ” the ability to gradually change color according to the angle of view” , is a very good way for animals to recognize each other and avoid danger from other creatures. The yellow spots and black and yellow and orange colors are also important indicators of danger, especially when in striped configurations.

Notice the orange abdomen and the yellow spots.

See how blue they appear when the light comes in from a different angle.

You Can’t See It All!:

Many of the colors of these insects are invisible to the human eye but very apparent in the ultra violet and infrared bands of the spectrum. Many animals, especially insects, have keen perception in these frequencies of light. But, of the colors we can see, we can distinguish this wasp from many others.

Bottoms Up!:

Scientific Name & Distribution:

These beautiful wasps have the scientific Name Scolia dubai. They are found as far north as New England and south all the way to Florida. Headed west they can be found as far as the Rocky Mountains. Though solitary they can be seen congregating in large numbers at food sources like wild mint and other nectar producing flowers.

Night Night, Sleep Tight:

One of the interesting things about these solitary wasps is their night behavior. They spend their nights resting on plants. The males even like to curl up around a stalk of grass or a twig. As they sleep water droplets often form on their bodies as the moisture in the air condenses on to the cooler surface of the wasp’s body. This moisture can then be slurped up and it also helps cool the body.

Every Creature Has A Purpose:

Whenever I discover a new species of plant, animal, or a creature from other Kingdom, I am reminded of the vastness of God’s Creation. There are so many things to discover that show us the magnitude of God’s creative character. Each time you take a closer look, you will discover that every single creature God created has a significant purpose in the overall creation. Each has a different job to do which benefits the whole. We, as humans, often refer to creatures like insects as “good bugs” or “bad bugs“. Though this designation may help us avoid getting stung or bitten or seeing our gardens destroyed, it doesn’t reveal the whole picture. Remember, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge.” Psalm 119: 1-6.  Be sure you take time to listen and observe His greatness. You can gain a lot of knowledge and come to understand more about our Wonderful Creator.

Beautiful Butterflies of Wyoming

Beauty All Around You:

While on vacation traveling through Wyoming and Montana we saw a lot of beautiful butterflies. They come in all colors and sizes and feed on a wide variety of plants. I thought you would enjoy seeing some of this beauty and share with you a symbol of life in Christ.

yellow swallowtail

Yellow Swallowtail

orange butterfly cropped

Checkerspot butterfly

gold butterfly and moth

Two Together: Smaller one is a Skipper.

gold white brown butterfly

Checkerspot on Yarrow

butterfly on milkweed 2

Copper Butterfly

blue butterfly

Tiny Blue on Thistle Plant

blue and orange 3

Many Varieties in One Area

black and white 2

Above and Below: Weidemeyer’s Admiral (AKA Western Admiral)

Limenitis weidemeyerii

black and white butterfly

Western Admirals are very territorial and often chase off other butterflies as they cruise through their space. They often perch where they can see any intruders. Though more common where we were in Wyoming they are considered endangered species in parts of Canada.

swallowtail closeup

Symbol of New Birth:

Did you know the butterfly is often considered a symbol, a picture of the new birth one experiences when he/she comes to know Christ as Savior/ LORD. Just like the caterpillar goes through a radical transformation from a worm-like creature into a pupa and finally to emerge as a butterfly,  when one comes to know Jesus there is also a beautiful transformation. Just like a butterfly changes its diet from eating leaves to drinking nectar, we acquire a new hunger for the things of the LORD and love to feed on His Word, the Bible. Like the butterfly is a demonstration of the beauty of creation, we become a testimony of transformation as we develop new habits and show His love to others.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.”  II Cor. 5:17

Have you ever experienced this change? Once we become reconciled to God through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross for our sins, He opens up a whole new plan for our lives that brings Him glory and results in true satisfaction to everyone who follows Him.