The black madrone butterfly is one of the strangest butterflies in the world. It also has a highly unusual relationship with man.
The madrone butterfly inhabits only five species of trees in a small part of Mexico. In the caterpillar, when they are ready to turn into butterflies, they spin tough bags of double-stranded silk. A single tree may have up to 20 silk bags hanging from it. The bags are so strong that the local Indians use them as bandages, containers and flags.
Madrone pupae are rich in fat and protein. Since they are eaten by the local Indians, scientists became worried about the butterfly’s future. The butterfly is already threatened by logging in the few forests it inhabits. Then, scientists discovered that the Indians actually cultivate the butterfly. They regularly move the butterfly’s silk bags from trees that have too many bags to trees with no bags, retying the bags to the trees. This care helps repopulate the butterflies in areas where they are scarce.
God has given us the earth and its resources to use for our benefit and the benefit of others. He has also given us the intelligence necessary to care for the earth as we use its resources. The Indians who tend the madrone butterflies show us by example proper management of the earth’s resources. Scientific knowledge is not as important as our attitude towards God’s creation.