This week, in an email with the subject "Bug babies fatality," volunteer identifier Bea in Ontario sent us some pictures along with a story. She'd spotted a cluster of tiny eggs on the underside of a White Oak leaf, watched the eggs until they'd hatched, and photographed the freshly hatched caterpillars, shown below:

eggs and newly hatched larvae of Red-humped Oakworm Moth, Symmerista canicosta

Each day when Bea checked on the babies fewer were to be seen. She transferred two to her famous caterpillar rearing container ( see http://www.backyardnature.net/growcats.htm ) but they didn't seem happy there, always trying to escape, so she returned them to the tree, where by then all their siblings had disappeared. Eventually she could identify the caterpillars as larvae of the Red-humped Oakworm Moth, Symmerista canicosta.

Soon after the two oakworms had been returned to their oak, one disappeared. A couple of days later when she visited the last survivor, she was happy to see how he'd grown, until...

"I noticed a white thing on his eyes and neck AND a wasp was after him. I shooed the wasp away and took pictures. On screen I see he has been parasitized and now is dying... And it breaks my heart."

The parasitized, dying caterpillar is shown below:

larva of Red-humped Oakworm Moth, Symmerista canicosta

So, this is a tiny but elegant example of the problem with sensitizing yourself to the world around you, of learning about things, and consequently developing feelings for them. In my own life I've found this process to be so ubiquitous and inevitable -- learn, experience, develop empathy, suffer when you see the thing you care about hurt or destroyed, whether bug or ecosystem -- that here's what I think: It must be a Law of Nature that the more any thinking, feeling being opens up and embraces Creation's diverse beautiful things, the greater is the possibility -- maybe the certainty -- of eventual hurt feelings.

Moreover, since the Universe seems to be evolving toward ever higher states of mentality and emotionality, as indicated by the Six Miracle of Nature, it seems to me that this is precisely what the Universal Creative Impulse responsible for the evolving Universe "wants" of us. If the Creator didn't want it, things wouldn't be evolving that way. The Six Miracles of Nature concept is outlined at http://www.backyardnature.net/j/6/

Why is reality structured so that the more aware and feeling we are, the more we're bound to get hurt?

The only answer I can imagine is that, once again, this situation is precisely what the Universal Creative Impulse seeks. It wants us to experience Her gorgeous and sometimes terrible diversity so that She can, in a sense, "personally" come to know the value of her creations. We are the Creator's nerve endings, whose job -- like nerve endings on human skin -- is to experience and feel, whether it's delight or pain.

And, thanks to Bea's curiosity and openness, now the Universal Creative Impulse knows exactly the value of a little caterpillar beneath a White Oak leaf in Ontario, when seen from one of an infinity of perspectives.