Have you ever felt something made out of silk? Perhaps one of your dad’s ties or one of your mom’s blouses or scarves? Did you feel how smooth and soft it was or did you see how it shiny and shimmering it way?
Do you know where that silk comes from?
Most of the silk used in clothing comes from the silkworm moth, Bombyx mori. According to most sources, the Chinese started using silkworm moths about 4000 to 4500 years ago, this also happens to correspond to the approximate time of the Tower of Babel when all the people scattered throughout the earth. Over the past several thousand years, the Chinese have perfected the culture of breeding and raising the silk moths. They carefully tend the silkworm moths and their larvae, feeding them their favorite food of white mulberry leaves. The moth larvae spin a white cocoon of silk for their pupa stage. Once the adult moths emerge from the cocoons, the silk farmers collect the cocoons where they are washed and processed into the valuable silk fibers used to make so many beautiful pieces of fabric and clothing. Silkworm moths are not the only animals that make silk. Many other moths and butterfly larvae also make silk cocoons, but it is not the same high quality silk as the cultivated silkworm moth.
Now I want to ask if you have ever walked into a spider’s web? Did you know that a spider’s web is also made of silk? Spiders have special structures called spinnerets which produce the silk strands they use to spin their webs. Some spiders can produce up to 8 different kinds of silk. I have watched some smaller species of spiders climb to a high spot like the branch of a tree or the roof of a house and then shoot out a long piece of silk into the air. As the breeze caught the silk thread, it picked the spider up and it sailed away on the wind like a parachute. Other spiders use their webs to make trap doors to their underground homes. Yet other spiders will use a strong extra thick non-sticky silk to construct the main form of their web. Then they will use a sticky silk for all of the smaller connecting threads of the web. These are the strands of the web that catch other insects. In some jungles, there are spiders that spin such a large and strong web that they not only catch flying insects, but they can also catch small birds that fly into the web. The patterns and uses of spider webs are almost as varied as there are different types of spiders.
Some spider’s silk is considered to be one of the strongest fibers in the world. When compared to the same size strand of steel or iron, the spider’s silk is stronger and more flexible than the steel and iron. It is so strong and flexible that it was once used as the cross hairs in riflescopes and surveying transits. In the case of rifle scopes, many other fibers that small would break from the recoil of the rifle when it is fired. However, the spider silk is so strong that it would remain intact through repeated firing.
Moths, butterflies and spiders are not the only animals that produce silk. A number of bees also produce silk. In the case of honeybees, the worker bees make the elaborate hexagonal honeycomb. Many people believe that the hexagonal shape would be sufficient to make the honeycomb strong, but that is not always the case. Some honeybee larvae make silk that they use to strengthen their wax honeycomb chambers. Some wasps also use silk in the construction of their nests.
Another silk producer is a family of parasitic wasps. These wasps hunt down other insects and lay their eggs on the backs of the larvae of those insects. The eggs are quite small when they hatch. After hatching, the wasp larvae quickly develop and then spin small white silk cocoons on the backs of the larvae. When they pupa hatch, they feed on the insect larvae that has carried them through their development. If you have ever grown tomatoes, you have probably seen the large green tomato hookworms that can eat all the leaves off of a tomato plant in a manner of days. Every so often, you will see one of these tomato hookworms covered with tiny white things that look like long eggs like in this photo. These are the small silk cocoons of a parasitic wasp.
Most amazing though are the weaver ants of Australia. Weaver ants build sheltered nests using leaves in trees and bushes. They work together to fold over part of a leaf or even to pull two or more leaves together. Then the adult ants will grab that ant larvae in their mouths and use them to attach the leaves together to form the nest. Ant larvae produce a silk thread that the adults use to hold everything together. It is really fascinating to watch the ants using their own larvae like sewing needles as they make their nest.
Silk really is a marvel in the insect and spider world. But how do evolutionists explain the evolution of silk?
They try to say that the early spiders evolved over 400 million years ago. They were some kind of primitive forms like this Attercopus fossil shown here, that somehow developed the ability to secret a sticky substance. As time went on, the glands that secreted this sticky silky substance somehow developed the specialized body parts needed to produce and secrete the different kinds of silk. If you look at the close up photo of the spinnerets of a spider in the photo above, you will see just how complicated they are. The more complicated the structure is, the more difficult it is for evolutionists to explain.
Then the evolutionists have to explain how the same trait of spinning silk evolved in moths and butterflies because according to evolutionists they didn’t evolve until about 200 million years after the spiders. They also say that bees and wasps didn’t evolve until about 120 million years ago, some 280 million years after the spiders and 80 million years after butterflies and moths. Supposedly, they believe that ants evolved from wasps around the same time that wasps evolved, which means they have to explain how the ability to produce silk evolved at least three different times in evolutionary history.
Another problem for evolutionists is that they can’t explain how the ancestors to the all of these different animals actually obtained the genetic information and chemicals and structures that they needed to grow the spinnerets and other special structures used in the production, spinning and guiding of silk. All they can really say is that it must have happened because we see them being used by spiders, moths, butterflies, ants, wasps and bees today.
However, as a Bible believing Christian, it is easy to explain. When we do what the Bereans did and turn to the Word of God to see what is true and what is false, we can easily explain how these animals got their ability to make and use silk.
Genesis 1:24-25 says: Moreover God said, Let the earth bring forth the living thing according to his kind, cattle, and that which creepeth, and the beast of the earth according to his kind, and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth according to his kind, and the cattle according to his kind, and every creeping thing of the earth according to his kind: and God saw that it was good.
Since spiders and insects are creeping things, we know that they were created on Day 6 of Creation. Since God is all wise, all knowing, and all powerful, it was nothing for Him to think of how to make them with everything they needed to make silk from the very beginning.
So every time you see a spider’s web or silk clothes, just think of how marvelously God designed these animals with their special abilities.