By Charles Towne

You will excuse me if I confess to being just a tad strange.  Well, perhaps it isn’t so much that I am strange as much as I ENJOY strange. 


I am absolutely fascinated by some of the weird defense systems found in nature.

  Take porcupines as an example. Erethizon Dorsatum, the North American Porky is slow-moving and much-maligned in the sense that contrary to popular belief he doesn’t throw his quills.  A question that frequently comes up when people are discussing porcupines is, “How do they mate?” The stock answer is invariably, “Very carefully!” As evidenced by the fact that there are a lot of the four-legged pincushions wandering in the northern forests their mating endeavors must be quite successful, but just in case Mr. or Mrs. Quill pig ends up impaled by their own armament the creator, quite considerately I might add, endowed the creature with the ability to remove any offending quills.  Not only that but the porky’s quills are coated with an antibiotic so there is no danger of infection! Very thoughtful of God I would say.

Then there is the bombardier beetle.  
When threatened by a predator this little guy will actually fire its own artillery!  There are chambers in the bombardier beetle’s abdomen that contain the components of a very sophisticated chemical cannon.  But then the question arises, what in the world prevents the chemicals from exploding internally, eventually leading to the beetle’s extinction?  To prevent himself from being blown up by his own cannon, the chemicals, hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide reside in separate chambers in the beetle’s body, exploding only when they are mixed as they are ejected.  But, it takes another enzyme to actually trigger this fantastical explosion. Oh yes, and the bombardier beetle can actually aim his cannon up, down, and sideways!

 What a wonderful creator we serve! 

Another creature that fascinates me is the archerfish.  This tiny fish preys on insects, shooting them from overhanging branches with a forceful jet of water shot from its mouth.  This little piscatorial wonder is able to compensate for refraction as well as distance striking his target from a distance as great as four feet away.  Yeah, not just strange but marvelous if you ask me.

Now for the weird.  (I, for some strange reason like this little guy!)

(I am convinced that Papa God, the creator, has an incredible sense of humor.) 

Cassida Rubignosa, in its larval form is a soft, tender little critter and without some means of defending itself would probably have become extinct long ago due to so many hungry birds and other beasties that would find it absolutely delicious. 
In its larval form Cassida has a fork shaped appendage on its rear end, and when it sheds, its old skin is caught on the fork and serves as a poop sack.  Yes, that’s right, a poop sack. Then Cassida flips the poop sack up onto its back and carries it wherever it goes. 
 You might well ask, “Why in the world would the adorable little tyke carry a sack of stinky stuff around?   So I will tell you. There is a predatory ant that finds the tender larval form of insects most delectable. 
  The hungry ant sees Cassida, rushes forward and reaches out to grab our little friend, and 
 cute, tender, little cassida says, “Leave me alone or I will hit you with my poop sack!”  And that is exactly what he does. 
 The ant, being a very fastidious ant, and not liking to be smacked with Cassida’s poop sack, Says something like “YUCK!” And backs off, and begins frantically grooming itself, allowing Cassida Rubignosa to trundle off and make his escape, poop sack and all.
 Whenever I think of Cassida I can’t help but think of those poor dear souls that enjoy gossiping about folks and causing a big stink.  Sort of their own version of hitting other folks with their poop sack which might be good for baby beetles but not good for God’s children nohow!

Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.


  1. And I thought my dad was a compendium of totally useless information… After reading this weeks article, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I have to agree with you on God’s sense of humor. I can think of a couple of politicians in Congress that need to be taken out back of the wood shed and experience a generous amount of “poop sack justice”.

  2. Aww Mike, don’t be too hard on them there polleeticker fellers. It seems to me they all suffer from a terminal case of brain farts. You take care my friend, Chaz

  3. Wonder what happens if his “poop sack” ever get empty? Does he ever get eaten? Wonder if a “tumble bug” would ever find this “poop sack” bug interesting? So many questions!

  4. Well, thank goodness the
    Dear Lord has a great sense of humor! Life would be so boring if He didn’t. I mean, just look at some animals (and people) that He made. The proof is in the pudding. LoL

  5. Great information about your wonderful grasp of natural science. As always i look forward to next week’s article. See you soon Charlie.

  6. Don Young, O my dear friend, again you have just proven that Papa God has a wonderful sense of humor. Getting hit by a poop sack, especially a giant poop sack must be an interesting thing. Blessings, Chaz

  7. Thanks for omitting skunks, everyone already knows about them, but you left out the masters of camouflage who simply can’t be found by preditors, the sea horses that can’t be told from seaweed, the myriad insects that have mastered the art of disappearing in plain sight.! Lastly what would happen if one of your cassidas met a dung beetle? On this subject I think of “the Lord makes the foolish things to confound the wise!” .

  8. Rich, I believe one of the reasons I like Casida is the fact that he is, by the grace of God, willing to make the best of a bad thing thus turning the bad thing into a good thing enabling him to survive in an environment filled with predators that would gobble him up like hot buttered popcorn. Are you content to be what God has made you? Chaz

  9. My friend, I would be very happy to be what God wants for me rather than what I have managed to mess up on my own! It is very comforting to know that He is so patient and doed not give up!!!

  10. Don old buddy, you make me think of my old friends, PINKY AND THE BRAIN. Pinky asked the Brain, “Well Brain, what are we going to do today?” And the Brain answered in all seriousness, “Well Pinky, as usual we are going to take over the world,” This might seem just a tad illogical seeing as Pinky and the Brain were two lab micc living in a cage in a laboratory. I wonder? Chaz

  11. Dear CSG, There was a time I doubted God’s sense of humor, but then for some strange reason I looked in a mirror. (perhaps I was inspired by Him.) Now whenever I forget that He has a sense of humor I look in the mirror and have to laugh. Yes, He does have a sense of humor! Bless you dear friend, Chjaz

  12. Richard, and the factoid that makes one wonder, why is it that daddy seahorses are the ones that carry baby seahorses in their pouches! And, what would happen if Cassida mated with a scarab (dung) beetle? I know I am being ridiculous but aint it fun? I am of the persuasion that Papa God created some things the way he did just for the fun of it. Blessings my friend, Chaz

  13. I am so blessed to have been the daughter of parents who loved and appreciated all of God’s Creation! I love the many wondrous things that show the unfathomable genius that designed it all! Keep on sharing!
    Your old pal…

  14. Faithy, I always believed the greatest gift I could give to my children was an appreciation for our wonderful God and His wondrous creation. Blessings to you all, your daddy.


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