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The Lie: Evolution


Miscellaneous Insect Design Compilation

In 2022, due to the fact of the large number of articles that bug evolutionism, I began putting multiple articles into loose categories. This one is Miscellaneous Insects.


1. Open Ocean Dragonfly Migration Boggles the Mind

2. Hear This: Cricket Ears Evolved Like Vertebrate Ears

3. Are People and Fruit Flies Related?

4. Clock-like Cicadas, Abuzz with Amazing Activity

5. Grasshopper Apologetics: No Need to Get Jumpy

6. Jungle Crickets Use Sophisticated Design to Avoid Bats

7. The Rocket Bug: Lone Insect of the Open Ocean

Open Ocean Dragonfly Migration Boggles the Mind

By Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D. November 4, 2021

Animal migrations occur all over the earth among many types of creatures, with some winged creatures (birds and insects) making the most extreme and lengthy ones. Among insects, the globe skimmer dragonfly (Pantala flavescens) is exceptional—being able to fly up to 3,730 miles across the open ocean. Scientists are finally beginning to unravel the required specificity behind the anatomical, behavioral, and metabolic complexity that enable this amazing feat.1

Strong evidence has implied the extreme migration of the globe skimmer dragonfly across the daunting ocean expanse between the Maldives off the coast of India to East Africa. However, the small size of the creature (which is only about 1.77 inches long with a wingspan of just a little over 3 inches) seemed to present problems at first due to the inherent limitations of the insect’s ability to store enough energy reserves. In other words, its gas tank did not appear big enough to hold the fuel needed to make the long journey.

In this new study, a group of researchers first derived a baseline by determining the insect’s specific metabolic characteristics. Then they calculated how long it could stay airborne using the maximum energy stored in its body, such as fat reserves.1 And because other flying creatures like birds depend heavily on wind patterns, they also calculated weather models to see if available seasonal wind patterns in the migration route could facilitate the open ocean flight in both directions.

The scientists discovered a flight model that would allow successful open ocean migration—one that combined active wing flapping with gliding and took advantage of seasonal wind patterns. In fact, there was a strong behavioral requirement for the dragonfly to select favorable wind patterns. The researchers also discovered that the specialized metabolism and physiological endurance of the dragonfly also played a key role in the migration, making it all possible.

Extreme creature traits, like this daunting open ocean migration of thousands of miles, boggle the human mind and utterly defy evolutionary interpretations regarding the dragonfly’s origins. How could random chance mythical processes result in the perfect combination of anatomy, physiology, and behavioral adaptations needed for this creature to succeed in this amazing endeavor? The only logical inference we can make is that this incredible engineering was built into these dragon flies by an omnipotent Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ.


1. Hedlund, J. et al. Unraveling the World’s Longest Non-stop Migration: The Indian Ocean Crossing of the Globe Skimmer Dragonfly. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 2021 (9): 525. DOI: 10.3389/fevo.2021.698128.

Hear This: Cricket Ears Evolved Like Vertebrate Ears

As in Jeopardy, here is the answer before the question.

Despite the insect ear’s tiny dimensions, its mode of operation strikingly resembled that of vertebrate ears. Apparently, evolution has provided similar solutions to the spectral processing of sounds.

The question is: “How did crickets get finely tuned hearing organs?” In Evolution Jeopardy, winners know the secret to winning big: give credit to evolution.

The quote is from a paper by Vavakou et al. in PNAS, “Tuned vibration modes in a miniature hearing organ: Insights from the bushcricket.” Here is the context:

Most hearing organs contain an array of sensory cells that act as miniature microphones, each tuned to its own frequency like piano strings. Acoustically communicating insects like bushcrickets have evolved miniscule hearing organs, typically smaller than 1 mm, in their forelegs. It is still unknown how the sensory structures inside the leg vibrate in response to sound. Using advanced imaging techniques, we meticulously mapped the nanovibrations in the bushcricket ear. We discovered a complex motion pattern in which structures separated by only 1/50 mm showed systematic tuning differences. Despite the insect ear’s tiny dimensions, its mode of operation strikingly resembled that of vertebrate ears. Apparently, evolution has provided similar solutions to the spectral processing of sounds. [Emphasis added.]

Having paids the obligatory homage to Darwin, the four authors from the Netherlands and Germany get down to the science.

The Findings

Bushcrickets, also known as katydids, are those green grasshopper-like insects that fascinate children because of their leaf-like camouflage. Using Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT), the European team obtained detailed images of the hearing organs of bushcrickets. The hearing organ on these orthopterans are located on the tibia just below the knee. Called the crista acoustica (CA), this organ, only 0.9 mm long, contains a series of sensory dendrites of decreasing length from the proximal to distal ends of the CA, oriented perpendicular to it. They look like piano strings, and presumably perform a similar function to the hair cells in the Organ of Corti of the mammalian cochlea. The ventral ends of the dendrites in the CA are embedded in the distal wall (DW), analogous to the basilar membrane in the cochlea. The dorsal ends of the dendrites are connected to cap cells which resemble the hair cells in vertebrate cochleae, where acoustic transduction to electric (neural) signals take place.

Striking Similarities

Other than location (in the heads of vertebrates and on the legs of insects), the functional similarities of the CA to the mammalian cochlea are striking, except that the cochlea is 40 times as long as the insect hearing organ! It’s a remarkable example of convergence already, and there is more to come.

Over the entire length of the CA, we were able to separate and compare vibrations of the top (cap cells) and base (dorsal wall) of the sensory tissue. The tuning of these two structures, only 15 to 60 μm (micrometer) apart, differed systematically in sharpness and best frequency, revealing a tuned periodic deformation of the CA. The relative motion of the two structures, a potential drive of transduction, demonstrated sharper tuning than either of them. The micromechanical complexity indicates that the bushcricket ear invokes multiple degrees of freedom to achieve frequency separation with a limited number of sensory cells.

Here is a case of fine-tuning at a micromechanical level in the acoustical response of the bushcricket hearing organ. The CA lies between two tympanic membranes, analogous to eardrums in vertebrates. The dorsal and ventral tympana vibrate in phase, moving synchronously, and appear to move in and out by a double hinge. The membranes tend to squeeze the CA, setting up waves that make the DW (dorsal wall) and the CC (cap cells) vibrate in different ways.

In summary, we recorded sound-induced vibrations in the bushcricket hearing organ using OCT vibrometry. The depth resolution of this technique yielded an unprecedented set of measurements. First, we measured the sound-induced motion of the anterior tympanum and the posterior tympanum at the same time. Our measurements confirmed that the two tympana bulged in and out simultaneously (Fig. 2E). Second, the septum between them followed the motion of the posterior tympanum (Fig. 2B). Third, we made a detailed and quantitative comparison between the sound-induced vibrations of the DW and the CC. The responses of both structures were tuned (Fig. 3), and there exist systematic differences between them in their tuning across the whole length of the sensory organ (Fig. 4). The differential motion of these structures was more sharply tuned than the absolute motion of either of them (Fig. 5 and SI Appendix, Fig. S2).

What this means is that two different acoustic responses sharpen each other. In the DW, which is stiffer along its length, and cap cells, which are each more sensitive, responses cooperate to improve the tuning response of each sensory dendrite. The fact that both weak responses are out of phase reinforces the tuning precision of the organ as a whole. Figure 6E in the paper shows a graph of improved resolution when the vector difference between them is graphed. It’s a clever way to get more resolution out of the tiny pressure waves that impinge on the hearing organ.

Impedance Matching

Another similarity to the vertebrate ear is found in the impedance matching. In our ears, the eardrum gathers the pressure waves of sound over a large surface, and through the lever action of the ossicles, transmits it through a smaller surface (the stapes) to the oval window of the fluid-filled cochlea. This amplifies the signal for the hair cells lining the Organ of Corti. The bushcricket has impedance matching, too:

Intriguingly, the double-hinged motion (Fig. 2) shows a striking resemblance with the coupling of sound into vertebrate inner ears, where a lever system (middle ear ossicles) converts the larger motion of a larger surface (eardrum) to smaller motions of a smaller area (stapes). In vertebrate ears, this configuration provides an impedance match between airborne sound and the vibrations in the fluid-filled inner ear. The hinged motion of the bushcricket tympana and adjacent septum may well serve the same purpose.

The authors admit that more work needs to be done to understand fully the complexity of the insect hearing organ, but they seem delighted with what they found:

This study has employed the opportunities for studying nonvertebrate hearing organs offered by OCT vibrometry. It revealed complexities in the micromechanics of the bushcricket CA that had not been found with previous methods. On the one hand, these findings bring new challenges in understanding insect hearing. On the other, they offer new views and suggest new solutions to known fundamental problems, including the delivery path of acoustic energy to the sensory tissue, the biophysics of auditory frequency selectivity, and the exact mechanisms that drive transduction.

These findings challenge Darwinism because species that are clearly unrelated by common ancestry employ common engineering principles. While the organs differ in size and construction, they are analogous in their physical operations: signal transduction, impedance matching, and frequency tuning. Even parts can be compared, like the vertebrate eardrum and the bushcricket tympanum, or the vertebrate hair cells and the insect sensory dendrites. Each implementation is ideally suited for the particular lifestyle of insects and vertebrates.

Are People and Fruit Flies Related?

By Frank Sherwin , M.A.   JANUARY 31, 2019

There are around 152,000 named species of flies (the order Diptera) representing approximately 10% of all species on Earth. One genus in particular, the pesky fruit fly Drosophila, is found all around the globe. It’s used in fields of scientific research that include behavior, physiology, genetics, and development.

Thomas Hunt Morgan, a geneticist and Darwin critic, studied this fascinating insect at the turn of the last century in his famous Fly Room at Columbia University. He later found the creatures could be mutated by X-rays. Indeed, in 1926 Hermann Muller discovered that heavy doses of X-rays could cause mutation rates to rise by 15,000%. In following decades, strange and lethal mutations were given colorful names such as spook, bazooka, bladder-wing, popeye, and hunchback.

Scientists have conducted over a century of detailed fruit fly research. If real evolution were to be observed, it would be in a lowly insect like the fruit fly. 1 They’re small, fairly easy to handle, sexually mature in just days, and have four pairs of chromosomes. This means it isn’t too difficult to locate a mutated gene in the Drosophilagenome.

Developmental biologists know that in order for macromutations to affect body-plan formation in such a way that could change one kind of animal into another kind, the mutations must occur early in the animal’s development. 2 Ironically, it has been consistently found that early developmental mutations damage a creature.

Those genes that control key early developmental processes are involved in the establishment of the basic body plan. Mutations in these genes will usually be extremely disadvantageous, and it is conceivable that they are always so. 3

Evolutionists, frustrated by not seeing any real evolutionary change in fruit flies no matter how much they mutate, have now resorted to trumpeting the similarities of flies and people in a strange hypothesis called deep homology. 4 These scientists maintain that the fruit fly genome shares widespread genetic content with people. Of course it does…who would doubt it? So do mice, oceanic invertebrates, birds, and a host of other creatures—even plants!

Fruit flies must breathe, eat, and drink water, so it follows that much of their genome is made up of genes involved with basic respiratory and digestive (carbohydrate, fat, and protein) physiology just like other animals and people. But having a few similar genes during embryonic development doesn’t mean the creatures have a common and unknown ancestor. As evolutionist V. Louise Roth recently stated, “Homology is a hypothesis and an inference.” 5 Creation scientists couldn’t agree more. 6 The idea of homology is shot through with evolution-based presumptions and suppositions. Even anti-creationist Michael Allaby said homology was “the fundamental similarity of a particular structure in different organisms, which is assumed to be due to descent from a common ancestor.” 7

God has designed the embryonic development of people and fruit flies (as well as virtually all bilateral animals) to be similar at certain basic levels, having corresponding aspects of their body plans. But this is hardly proof of evolutionary continuity. It is, however, clear evidence of a common Designer.


  • Sherwin, F. 2006. Fruit Flies in the Face of Macroevolution. Acts & Facts. 35 (1); Thomas, B. 100 Years of Fruit Fly Tests Show No Evolution. Creation Science Update. Posted on July 29, 2010, accessed December 18, 2018.

  • Thomson, K. S. 1992. Macroevolution: The Morphological Problem. American Zoologist. 32 (1): 106-112.

  • Arthur, W. 1997. The Origin of the Animal Body Plans: A Study in Evolutionary Developmental Biology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 14. Emphasis in original.

  • Held Jr., L. I. 2017. Deep Homology?: Uncanny Similarities of Humans and Flies Uncovered by Evo-Devo. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Roth. V. L. 2018. Book Review of Deep Homology? By Lewis I. Held, Jr. The Quarterly Review of Biology. 93 (4): 384.

  • See also Section 4.3 in Denton, M. 2016. Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis. Seattle, WA: Discovery Institute Press.

  • Allaby, M. 2014. Dictionary of Zoology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 296.

Clock-like Cicadas, Abuzz with Amazing Activity

By James J. S. Johnson, J.D., June 16, 2020

For a generation of millions (maybe billions) of North American jumping bugs called cicadas—often mislabeled in America as locusts—life changes dramatically after 17 years, yet for others the special timeframe is 13 years.1,2

And for many such periodical cicadas, reports Kirsten Geddes, it’s about that time.

Cicadas, those little bugs that make a familiar hissing [or buzzing or whirring] sound, are making their way back to Texas. The bugs have been underground for about 17 years, but are now emerging. Many are heading to East Texas…3

But cicadas are already teeming in three of America’s east coast states, according to AccuWeather’s Kevin Byrne.

Following a 17-year period of underground development, periodical cicadas are set to burst above ground in the coming days and weeks, with three states in particular expected to be hotspots for the bugs to emerge and sing their own song of summer. Periodical cicadas can appear in 17 or 13-year intervals and cicadas of the same life cycle are classified into different broods. This year’s emergence is classified as Brood IX and the largest quantity of the insects is expected across parts of northwestern North Carolina, southwestern Virginia and southeastern West Virginia.4

The exact timing of this massive “invasion,” some say, is determined by a blend of phenology (seasonal timing or other periodicity patterns that animals sense and respond to) and weather (daily details of rainfall, temperature, etc.).

One of the biggest factors that helps the insects know when it’s time to dart above ground is when soil temperature reaches a comfortable 64 degrees Fahrenheit. The bugs typically arrive in mid-May and can continue to come out through early July. And, while the mid-May cold snap felt across the Midwest, Northeast and mid-Atlantic could delay their full emergence, it likely won't have a substantial impact on the brood, several experts told AccuWeather.4

Dr. Michael Skvarla, entomologist at Pennsylvania State University, says that warmer springs can prompt cicadas to arrive in the year. Conversely, he says, cooler springs influence them to arrive later in the year.4

However, other entomologists have proposed other theories about cicada arrivals, such as cicada reacting only to host-tree seasonal cycles.5

Regardless of whatever form of “alarm clock” the cicadas are programmed (by God) to react to, they all use the same math calculations great hordes of them emerge, suddenly and simultaneously, when they do appear—whether that be in late spring or early summer.1,2,4,6

Why does this work how it does? Rather than recognize God’s genius in these insects, many give credit to an imagined (and never-observed) evolutionary process, as is illustrated by the speculation of Dr. Jim Fredericks, entomologist with the National Pest Management Association.

When it comes to their unique life span, the 17-year life cycle of periodical cicadas is thought to have evolved [sic] as a strategy to avoid predation, which makes it difficult for other species that use cicadas as food to sync with their own life cycles, Fredericks explained. Different broods surface in different regions, though some members of a population may turn up early (or late) and some regions see overlap. "Over time, these breeding populations evolved [sic] into predictable emergences,” he said.4

Obviously, Dr. Fredericks is no eyewitness to any such process—yet he gives credit to an imagined process, so as to avoid the obvious alternative: God the Creator.

Meanwhile, arriving swarms of cicadas are expected in Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia.

Experts predict that more than a million cicadas will be making appearances in the coming months, with parts of Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina serving as hotspots for the insects. The last time cicadas made a major appearance was in 2013, when billions of the bugs burst out of the ground and infested the East Coast and mid-Atlantic region. This showing is expected to be much smaller, with scientists predicting that just 1.5 million cicadas will emerge.…6

Only 1.5 million cicadas? Surely their numbers will be heard! But should we be fearful? Not if you are human—but maybe if you are a tree.

Typically harmless, the insects pose no threat to people but can do some damage to trees. The real issue of cicadas is their extremely loud mating hum, which can reach up to 100 decibels—the same sound level of power tools and lawnmowers.6

As ICR’s Dr. Brian Thomas clarifies, the genius in all of this phenological timing is not the buzzing bug—it’s the Creator-God who bioengineered the bug’s time-sensitive software and hardware. This is providential programming!

Mike Raupp, an entomologist at the University of Maryland said, "These guys [i.e., cicadas] are geniuses with little tiny brains." So, even secular scientists recognize the genius inside insects' instincts. But unfortunately, they mistake the origin of that genius. Raupp told AP, "These guys have evolved several mathematically clever tricks." They should know better. … Magicicada [cicada] broods spend either 17 or 13 years living underground, and both are prime numbers. If a series of prime numbers came from outer space, secular astronomers would have no doubt that an intelligence sent them. But apparently their inference-making skills lapse when prime numbers occur in creatures right at their feet!2

So how should we understand the wonder of this astonishing invasion of buzzing bugs who, somehow simultaneously after 17 (or 13) years, know what time it is? The answer is not that these time-conscious bugs somehow “evolved” their habits of phenotypic novelty.2

Rather, as spring transitions into summer and cicadas swarm and hum, realize that their terrific timing traits exhibit God’s mathematical genius and bioengineering wisdom. In Colossians 1:16, Paul writes,

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth … all things were created by Him and for Him.

As ICR’s scientists Frank Sherwin and Brian Thomas say: “The Lord Jesus is the original mathematician. He infused His mathematical signature into the counting cicada and many other insects, too.”2


1. Periodic cicadas (also called periodical cicadas) are hemipteran jumping bugs, more like leafhoppers and froghoppers, than to the grasshopper forms properly called "locusts." For watching periodical cicadas, see Another cicada variety, called dog-day cicada, appears every summer.

2. Thomas, B. Cicadas Make Great Mathematicians. Creation Science Update. Posted on May 22, 2013, accessed June 10, 2020. See also Sherwin F. and B. Thomas. 2013. Insect Arithmetic—Pure Genius! Acts & Facts. 42(7): 16-17.

3. Geddes, K. 2020. Cicadas Make their Way Back to Texas. NewsWest9. Posted on May 21, 2020, accessed June 11, 2020.

4. Byrne, K. 2020. Here they come: 17-year cicadas to emerge in 3 states this spring, summer. AccuWeather. Posted on May 22, 2020, accessed June 11, 2020.

5. One study suggest that accumulating “degree days” does not determine the cicadas’ synchronously swarming emergence. See Karban, R., C. A. Black, S. A. Weinbaum. 2020. Ecology Letters. 3(4): 253-256, saying: “Seventeen ‐year periodical cicadas (Magicicada spp.) require 17 years to develop underground and all individuals at any location emerge synchronously within several days. … We altered the seasonal cycles of trees supporting cicada nymphs and thereby induced premature metamorphosis of the associated cicadas. … [proving] that cicadas accomplish a consistently accurate 17 ‐year pre-adult development time by counting host seasonal cycles and not either by the passage of real time or by the accumulation of degree days. ”

6. Breen, K. 2020. Over a million cicadas will return to swarm parts of the U.S. this summer. Today. Posted on May 22, 2020, accessed June 11, 2020.

Grasshopper Apologetics: No Need to Get Jumpy

BY JAMES J. S. JOHNSON, J.D., TH.D. June 30, 2021

After spying in Canaan, 10 Hebrew scouts fearfully reported, “We saw the giants…and we were [by comparison] like grasshoppers” (Numbers 13:33). Like the cowardly spies, grasshoppers are easily frightened.

As their name suggests, grasshoppers hop hastily in grasses whenever they fear potential predators.1 But no one should fear what people say when the Bible talks about grasshoppers, although a college freshman once expressed nervousness because someone told him that Scripture describes grasshoppers as “four-legged” insects, but all grasshoppers have six legs!2,3

Did Moses get it wrong in Leviticus 11:20-24? Should the freshman be intimidated by Bible-bashing critics and evasively flee scientific topics just as the trepid grasshopper leaps to escape predators?

The secular world blasts and bombards students everywhere—as it does all of us—with the false claim that science (an all-too-often-misrepresented term) somehow proves the holy Bible is unreliable on scientific topics. Trumpeting such disparagements, secular platforms taunt Bible believers.2 No surprise there—this is what Peter and Paul predicted: “scoffing” by ungodly unbelievers (2 Peter 3:3) and “science falsely so called” (1 Timothy 6:20, KJV).

But how do you face and fend off pseudo-intellectual bluff-and-bluster bullying? By carefully studying what God actually said in Scripture (Acts 17:11). So-called clashes between Scripture and science routinely reduce to sloppy science, sloppy theology, or both.4

Misreporting grasshoppers, in this case, doubly exhibits the oversimplification fallacy, illustrating both sloppy science and sloppy theology.2,4,5 It’s sloppy science to suggest that grasshoppers, as six-legged insects, walk about (or creep) on six feet—they do not. Like airplanes in flight holding their wheels upright, grasshoppers hold their two hind legs upright when walking.5

However, when springing into a leap, grasshoppers powerfully unleash their hind legs, then powerfully push off from a substrate (e.g., ground, grass), similar to swimmers pushing off from swimming pool walls and launching into catapult jumps to land at multimeter distances (up to 100 times longer than grasshopper body lengths). This requires bursts of both might and acceleration at the same time. However, muscular motions usually activate either high-power movements or high-speed movements, not both.5

Yet, God designed grasshoppers to do both simultaneously!

Grasshoppers exhibit catapult mechanism to expand the mechanical power generated by its muscle.…Grasshoppers are wonderful creatures…[that] can instantly accelerate to a high velocity through contraction of the muscles and relaxation releasing the energy stored.5

Meanwhile, it’s likewise sloppy theology to suggest that Moses ever called grasshoppers four-legged insects, because he described these crawling-and-jumping creatures literally as “walking upon four” (hōlēk ‘al ’arba‘ in Leviticus 11:21a), with “benders from over/above its feet, for to leap by them” (kerâ‘îm mimma‘al leraglâîw lenattēr bâhēn in Leviticus 11:21b). Moses knew that grasshoppers walk on four feet (two forelegs, two mid-legs). He also recognized that grasshoppers use contracted bending/springing legs (two hind legs) positioned above the walking legs for catapult-like leaping.

So, jumping to oversimplifications is neither good science nor good theology. Moses had it right all along—no surprise there (John 5:44-47).


1. Johnson, J. J. S. Cabin Fever, Cattle Egrets, and Pasture-land Partnerships. Creation Science Update. Posted on April 10, 2020, accessed April 15, 2021. See also Joern, A. 1992. Variable Impact of Avian Predation on Grasshopper Assemblies in Sandhills Grassland. Oikos. 64: 458-463. Regarding grasshopper timidity, see Job 39:20 and Nahum 3:17, corroborated by observations of Alpine Booney Grasshopper (Booneacris glacialis), August 1997, Appalachian Trail’s Presidential Range, White Mountains, New Hampshire.

2. This occurred at Dallas Christian College in the mid-1990s. Similar Q&As occur elsewhere. E.g., Morris, J. D. 2001. Does the Bible Really Claim that Insects Only Have Four Legs? Acts & Facts. 30 (7).

3. See Leviticus 11:20-24. Verse 20 mentions “flying insects that creep on all fours.”

4. See Johnson, J. J. S. 2017. Sloppy Religion and Sloppy Science. Acts & Facts. 46 (5): 21, which explains Psalm 93:1 and 19:1-6. See also Johnson, J. J. S. 2019. The Circle of the Earth. Acts & Facts. 48 (5): 21, explaining Isaiah 40:22.

5. Chuan, Y. L. et al. 2017. Biomimicry-Grasshoppers Inspired Engineering Innovation. International Robotics & Automation Journal. 2 (2): 77-80. See also Burns, M. D. and P. N. R. Usherwood. 1979. The Control of Walking in Orthoptera: Motor Neurone Activity in Normal Free-walking Animals. Journal of Experimental Biology. 79: 69-98.

Dr. Johnson is Associate Professor of Apologetics and Chief Academic Officer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Cite this article: James J. S. Johnson, J.D., Th.D. 2021. Grasshopper Apologetics: No Need to Get Jumpy. Acts & Facts. 50 (7).

Jungle Crickets Use Sophisticated Design to Avoid Bats

By Brian Thomas, Ph.D. May 26, 2020

One hundred percent effective. How often does that happen, especially in the dog-eat-dog world of biology? Researchers from the University of Bristol in the UK and Graz University in Austria found exactly that in a life-saving strategy that a species of flying cricket uses. Where does perfection like this come from?

The cricket makes its home on Barro Colorado Island, Panama. There, bat calls punctuate katydids’ persistent jungle noises. Without some way to avoid bat sonar detection while flying at night, all sword-tailed crickets could soon get converted into guano. According to new results, published in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, the specific features they use to avoid bats work just right.1

The very moment these crickets hear a bat sonar signal at a certain volume, they stop flying and drop. But how do they know that sound came from a bat? The insects only respond “to ultrasonic calls above a high-amplitude threshold,” according to a University of Bristol Press Release.2

Once in the air, these flying crickets have no time to try and discern call pattern differences between bats, katydids, or other noises. So instead of call patterns, they tune in to a high-amplitude threshold that excludes all katydid sounds. Who set that threshold? If nature did it, then how many crickets had to get eaten before natural selection tuned that threshold? And how would the dead crickets digesting in bat stomachs have communicated what didn’t work to their living?

In addition, the insects’ “very low sensitivity” keeps them from responding to the katydid sounds with “similarly high sonic and ultrasonic frequencies.” The study authors wrote, “Remarkably, any increase in sensitivity would result in such false alarms.”1 The crickets would never even take flight if they constantly registered the many false alarm katydid calls.

How loud does the bat call need to be in order for these flying crickets to decide to drop from the sky? Exactly 85 decibels. That volume corresponds to a bat at “7 meters away, which is the exact maximum distance over which these bats would detect the swordtail crickets’ echoes.”1

Now who taught these crickets exactly when bat echolocation detects their tiny bodies?

The crickets combine low sensitivity with volume specificity to ignore katydid noise and pay vital attention to bat noise. The study authors wrote, “Their classifier is doubly optimal with 0% false alarms and 100% response to calls indicating detection by their echolocating predators.”1

Stated another way, “This strategy helps them achieve perfect false alarm rejections of background noise and perfect correct detection of dangerous bat signals.”1 We find a match in the Bible, where Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, his way is perfect.” These crickets’ strategy and the Creator Who invented it both have this in common: Perfection.


1. Romer, H. and M. Holderied. 2020. Decision making in the face of a deadly predator: high-amplitude behavioural thresholds can be adaptive for rainforest crickets under high background noise levels. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 375(1802).

2. Staff Writer. Eavesdropping crickets drop from the sky to evade capture from bats. University of Bristol Press Release. Posted on May 8, 2020, accessed May 20, 2020.

The Rocket Bug: Lone Insect of the Open Ocean

By Brian Thomas, Ph.D. June 02, 2020

Various water-striding insects use small body sizes, long legs, and fine hairs on their feet to skate on the surfaces of ponds and streams. But life on the open ocean presents tougher challenges than landlocked waterways. Waves, fishes, salt, and birds should spell disaster for such small striders. Only one genus, Halobates, has cracked the ocean code, and new research names the necessary creature features.

Scientists from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California captured and tested the tiny Hemipterans—an order that includes the true bugs. The team measured Halobates body size, jump force, body hair dimensions, and observed various behaviors.

In the journal Scientific Reports, they published that certain tiny leg and body hairs end in a mushroom shape instead of a peg shape as in stream-living water striders.1 The widened hair tips trap air near this insect’s body. This increases its buoyancy and offers three life-sustaining benefits. If violent waves submerge the insect, it more easily bobs to the surface. Even if it stays down, it can breathe that trapped air for a time. Plus, after the insect jumps high off the sea surface, it crash-lands. That extra air cushions its fall enough to keep it on top of the water even on impact.

Ocean-dwelling Halobates have more hairs packed into smaller areas than their cousins. It secretes a wax to coat the hairs, making its body and legs superhydrophobic. Even raindrops slide right off its slick surface. The insect needs at least six features to make itself superhydrophobic: uniquely shaped hairs, a high density of hairs, two separate lengths of hairs, a wax secretion gland positioned where its foot can reach it, what the study authors called a “grooming apparatus” on its legs that spreads the wax on its other legs and body, and the instinct to know exactly what to do with the wax. Which feature evolved first?

If all the features had evolved except the wax gland, the creature would lose its superhydrophobicity—ability to repel water from its body. If all the features including the wax gland had evolved, but the wax chemistry wasn’t yet quite right, it would again lose that ability. Instead of evolving each feature one at a time, this bug would never survive the open ocean without all these features in place at once.

And its list of essential features doesn’t stop there. The team measured the insects’ acceleration at 389 meters per second—much higher than freshwater-living water striders. How does it jump with such strength? It has longer legs than its body size when compared to freshwater species, and it has middle legs “much longer than the hind legs, allowing it to generate rapid movements.”1 It also has faster reaction time in response to threats. Fish from below can’t catch this nearly-instantaneous jumper.

Other Halobates also have superhydrophobicity, grooming instinct, specialized hairs, and “reduction in body size and mass,” but they cannot colonize seas. The Scientific Reports study authors proposed that those traits aren’t enough for it to thrive on the open ocean. Additional traits include “winglessness, ability to lay eggs on floating substrates, longer oviposition periods, slower growth rates and longer life spans compared with coastal and related freshwater species.”1

All those features—all at once. Or it dies in the open ocean. What natural process could put all this in place?

The study authors attributed the origin of its “adaptations” (by which is meant “design features”) to “likely products of evolutionary selection of traits resulting in a fine-tuned ocean-worthy prototype.” That’s it. They offer an empty phrase in place of science.2

What supposed evolutionary selection steps would have happened in which order? What mechanism would spread those supposedly new traits from one evolving individual into a breeding population of bugs? What steps would have or could have held each new necessary trait in place while the population waited for untold generations for the required suite of ocean-specific traits to evolve?

The total absence of any scientific or even imaginary answers to these key questions showcases the abject emptiness of throw-away statements like “evolutionary selection” in cases like this. Fine-tuned features come from fine tuners. God, not nature, clearly crafted Halobates’ stunning array of fine-tuned features required to live in the seas that He also created in the beginning.


1. Mahadik, G.A., et al. 2020. Superhydrophobicity and size reduction enabled Halobates (Insecta: Heteroptera, Gerridae) to colonize the open ocean. Scientific Reports. 10:7785.

2. Guliuzza, R. Unmasking Evolution’s Magic Words. Acts & Facts. 39 (3): 10-11.