You have to feel sorry for caterpillars. For all that they change into butterflies or moths, they face some unusual perils in their early life – including being turned into zombies.
Recently zombie caterpillars made the news in England. Infected by the baculovirus, caterpillars were changing their behaviour to climb up to the top of trees in broad daylight. Usually they would hide during the day and feed at night. Why the change? Because, infected by the virus they climb high towards the light, die and spread infected body fluid down below to infect more caterpillars. Truly awful.
Scientists in the US have been studying the virus for some time as a species specific mechanism to control some moth populations. Though a combination of genetic and fossil data, the virus is estimated to be circa 310 million years old.
This nasty little virus isn’t the only thing caterpillars have to worry about. The wasp Glyptapanteles puts it eggs into young caterpillars who then feed on the hapless caterpillar before eating their way out of the poor beast. The wasp larvae then gone into cacoons and the caterpillar stops eating and guards the cacoons before dying when the new wasps emerge. The caterpillar is like a zombie, controlled by its awful fate.
Whilst of cold comfort to the caterpillars – other creatures are also prey to zombie like behaviour due to various viruses and parasites (including ants, mice and others).
It is not uncommon for literalists to insist there was no death in the garden of Eden based on their mistaken understanding of very good and approach to Romans 5:12 together with a strange view of Rom 8.
Such a view falls down not just scripturally but also in view of the evident facts which don’t rest easy with the creation of all life 6,000 years ago.