In the animal kingdom the ability to change from an immature form to an adult is called metamorphosis. We all know of the caterpillar's changing into a beautiful butterfly or a maggot's becoming a common housefly, but there is one insect that indeed makes a "Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde" transformation. It is the common ant-lion.
It gets its name from the larva stage when it is a most fierce looking and acting predator of ants and other small insects. At this stage it has a short fleshy body with six legs and disproportionately large caliper-like jaws armed with strong spikes and bristles to help grasp its prey. It builds a very spectacular and complex trap in the loose soil. This "pit-trap," constructed by an elaborate series of backward circular motions, ends up becoming cone shaped and about 1/2 inch deep. The ant-lion sits at the bottom of the pit with its jaws exposed waiting for a luckless ant or other insect to slide down the side into its waiting jaws. If an insect tries to climb out before reaching the bottom, the larva flips sand and dirt up to knock the victim to the bottom. It is truly a beast when it comes to catching its prey, but that is only half of its life - for yet to come is the beauty.
A truly remarkable change occurs with this insect as it changes from the larva to an adult. When the larva has eaten enough food to grow sufficiently, it begins its change into a thing of beauty. By undergoing a complete breakdown of its internal organs, it emerges from the pupa as one of the most graceful of God's creations. The large lace wings of the adult allow it to fly with a very fluid motion. The arrangement of colors gives this insect a striking beauty that rivals that of any insect in the world. And so, this lowly creature has made the transformation from beast to beauty.
The ability to go through these remarkable changes is one of the gems of God's creation, and plagues evolutionary scientists because it is unexplainable in terms of natural selection. If we exclude the intelligence of a grand designer, it is impossible to explain how the ant-lion or any other insect knows how to undergo metamorphosis. Rt. 1 Box 116A, Belington, WV 26250.