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CREDIT: Nina Fatouros (

Plants Call Wasps to Protect Them From Butterflies

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CREDIT: Nina Fatouros (

If someone or something is attacking you and you need help, you yell for help and hope someone hears you.  You may also wave your hands and jump up and down or even run as fast as you can, all to save yourself and get help from somebody else.

Some animals will also use some sort of warning of danger or call for help.  Prairie dogs and meerkats will squeak out an alarm signal when threatened.  Muskox will stamp their feet and snort and then form a protective circle to protect their young.  Deer will stamp their feet and snort to warn off danger and signal others.  Many species of monkeys will yell and scream to warn the rest of the troop that there is danger approaching.

But what does a plant do when it is under attack?  They don’t have brains to think about what to do, nor can they yell, wave their leaves, stomp their roots or get up and run away.

Researchers in Europe have been studying plants and how they defend themselves by sending out chemical distress signals.  One of the plants they studied is black mustard, which is in the same genus as cabbage.  When the cabbage white butterflies land on the plant leaves and prepare to lay their eggs, the black mustard gives off a chemical distress signal.  The chemical signal attracts two different species of parasitic wasps that just love butterfly eggs and caterpillars.  As the plant continues to give off the chemical signal, other butterflies detect the warning and will avoid laying their eggs on the same plant.

The researchers also discovered that the chemical distress signal is somewhat specific to that particular butterfly.  When the cabbage moth landed on the same plant and began to lay their eggs, the plant did not send out the distress signal.  Cabbage moth caterpillars do not cause as much damage to the plants as do the butterfly caterpillars and somehow the plant is able to tell the two apart before the eggs hatch into caterpillars.

My question to evolutionists is how do the black mustard plants know the difference between the cabbage white butterflies and cabbage moths?  I would also ask them how the plants knew they had to evolve the one chemical that would attract the right parasitic wasps that would protect them from the butterfly caterpillars.  How many plants died evolving the wrong chemical signal before one of them finally got it right?

The only explanation for such a plant defense mechanism is that they were created that way from the very beginning by our infinitely wise Creator God.  He specifically designed the black mustard with the ability to identify the right predator, produce the right chemical to attract the right wasp that would destroy the eggs and caterpillars of the harmful butterflies.  Isn’t our God absolutely marvelous?


Plant Calls in Wasps to Kick Some Butterfly Butt


Adventures of Arkie the Archaeopteryx

By Ryan Jaroncyk
Illustrated by Lisa Sodera

Join Arkie the Archaeopteryx as he flies through an ancient jungle and meets many unique creatures that are also not missing links. This delightful adventure helps children look at the natural world through a biblical lens, giving glory to God.


Hardback, 48 pages

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  • katie

    This was a God-Awesome article. People in general just don’t get IT, don’t care about what a marvelous God we
    have. That’s sad. Thank you for this article. I am thrilled to be reminded Who Created me and that He keeps me
    safe. I do know that He allows ALL, even evil to filter through His Fingers, to get to me. Even the cabbage knows without even a spirit to connect with the Lord.

  • David Flores

    Okay then. God created this system before there was death in the world? Why does a plant protect itself from butterflies when everything was good?

  • tommyzax

    Certainly no creature can evolve a defense mechanism to mortal danger. If the individual creature is killed off, there is no evolution possible. If the individual creature is not killed off, no evolution is necessary. All that’s left is accidental mutation or God. Given the number of interactions which work, the permutations of mutations doesn’t work. It’s God.

    Now, there is a contradiction in mortal defense mechanisms if you also invoke that death did not exist before sin. There is no reason for God to instill the mechanism if death is absent. One might say that God was thinking ahead, and that is interesting, because it proves that God knew Adam and Eve would fail, that is, to sin. Knowing this, we must conclude that God WANTED them to fail. For if we say that Adam and Eve had the choice to NOT fail, that is, to not sin, mortal defense mechanisms make no sense.

  • NikoTzu

    Those plants that accidentally or by genetic mutation released that chemical which attracted the wasps would have succeeded. They would have more “offsprings” and by that the genetic trade of releasing the chemical when those eggs are laid would survive and continue spreading. And I do believe in God.

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