If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may have gathered that I am both a bug freak and a Jesus freak. If you’re new to the blog, brace yourself for the “Jesus loves you!” confetti about to burst from your screen – and facts about Mexican jumping bean moths, of course. If you’d rather just stick with the arthropod facts today, you can skip down a few paragraphs.
Happy (almost) Easter, everyone! Just a few months ago we celebrated the arrival of our Savior with Christmas (and a post on Christmas crabs), and now we celebrate His victory in overcoming death – with Mexican jumping beans.
In all seriousness though, I feel like I don’t take enough time to appreciate how awesome Jesus is. Our infinite, indescribable God literally stepped out of eternity to connect with His creation as a human being. He healed us, He taught us, He cried with us, He walked with us, and He ultimately died for us so that we could be remade as He intended for us to be and live in paradise with Him forever. And here’s the kicker – Jesus didn’t do that after we believed He’s the Son of God. He didn’t do that after we finally got our act together. He did that for liars, adulterers, hypocrites, murderers, and greedy, selfish people while we were lying, committing adultery, being hypocritical and selfish and greedy and murdering Him. That’s some kind of amazing love right there. And that love is directed at you!
God loves you, ya goofball.
It is 2021, folks, and we can have inextinguishable hope because our God is alive! He is alive and moving in this crazy, throbbing-with-brokenness world, and He is coming soon to restore it all.
We may not understand it all We don’t understand it at all right now, but what’s coming is going to be so much better than anything we could risk to fathom.
And He gave us mulch lobsters. I mean seriously, what a gift.
So. Let’s pivot to Mexican jumping beans, shall we? Guess what: they have moth larvae in them. I don’t know what I thought made them wriggle around, but I definitely wasn’t thinking it was caterpillars.
Mexican jumping beans aren’t actually beans at all, but rather the seed capsules of Sebastiana pavoniana plants native to Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico. The jumping bean moth lays her eggs in the flowers of Sebastiana pavoniana shrubs, and when they hatch, the little larvae crawl into the developing capsules. The capsules eventually grow and harden with a caterpillar in one of their three sections, or carpels, but the caterpillars don’t mind the cramped conditions: they’ve got shelter and plenty of seed to chow down on. It’s the perfect little larva lair!
…Well, almost. Mexican jumping beans grow in the desert, and similarly to the dangers of sitting in a hot car, laying in the hot sun trapped in a little carpel can be kind of dangerous for jumping bean caterpillars. Hence the “jumping” – the jumping bean caterpillars knock their heads on the carpels to move out of the sun and into the safety of the shade. Jumping beans will also move around if you warm them in your hands or shine a light on them. The carpels will eventually stop their fidgeting, however, when the caterpillar pupates and becomes immobile as it develops in its cocoon.
If you’ve ever had Mexican jumping beans of your own, you may have eventually noticed that each carpel developed a little hole over time. The caterpillars chewed these hole before pupating so they could escape their carpel after metamorphosis. While the caterpillar initially covers this hole with silk, it will crawl out of the hole as a moth when it’s time to fly away and lay eggs of its own.
You know, I think Mexican jumping beans are a great example of creation right now. Check out this passage from Romans, for example: “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God” (Romans 8:18-21).
That’s the image jumping beans bring to mind for me – creation trembling in “eager expectation” of what is to come. Also, COVID-19? That awfulness isn’t even “worth comparing” to all the awesomeness that’s coming. How unfathomably incredible is that?
Happy Easter, everyone! He is risen, once and for all: don’t let anyone or anything steal the joy that entails.