Most people don’t even know what aphids are. They are not pretty or spectacular to look at. Yet these tiny insects are some of the most altruistic animals that exist on the planet and, as such provide a strong challenge to the evolutionary dogma. This article will discuss this recent remarkable discovery and explain how it fits in the context of the origins debate.
Aphids are small insects of a massive superfamily of insects, containing over 5000 species. Some species are known to be pests in agriculture since they suck sap from plants, at least in many instances. Other species are “cultured” by ants, for the milky “honeydew” they produce. Some species live in large colonies, while others are more solitary, or live in smaller groups. It is the Asian species Nipponaphis monzeni which was the focus of the most recent study.
This species of aphid, which colonizes tree twigs and forms sometimes massive galls on them. When these galls are damaged, the aphids repair them from the inside out. However, the way they do it is remarkable. The young aphids, called soldiers, swarm out of the puncture. If there is an intruder, some of them attack the intruder, while the remainder immediately attempt to seal the hole. To do this, they swell up with fluid. They then burst open, and squirt the sticky fluid into the opening. They do this through a special pair of openings at the rear of their bodies. The fluid they secrete is fatty and sticky. It is secreted directly into the opening, where it hardens up and seals the hole. Some of the aphid soldiers get stuck in the hole and die, adding their bodies to the patch. Others are sealed outside where they battle the invader until they die, or simply die apart from the colony. The soldier aphids that remain inside the colony fare no better. Depleted of the fluid, the soldiers inside slowly weaken and die.
The fluid released functions similar to a scab in humans. The little bits of liquid are combined together by the doomed soldier ants and melded into clots, which adhere to one another. The soldier ants work this fatty clot into a structure that, eventually, will seel the hole in the colony, at the cost of the soldier aphids’ lives. They can do this in as little as half an hour. The soldiers inside will continue to work for sometimes a few weeks until the gall is completely repaired.
Obviously, this causes all kinds of problems for the evolutionary dogma. The aphids know just how to repair the breech, and are equipped with just the right materials to do so. How did these mechanisms evolve? By what mechanism does an insect that is just barely big enough to be seen develop the ability to excrete a liquid that just happens to have just the right chemical properties to function as a healing mechanism for the exterior of the colony? And how does it learn exactly what it needs to do with this liquid which enables it to close the breech? These are questions evolutionists cannot answer.
However, as problematic as the structures and behaviors are, and they are very difficult to explain, it is the altruistic behavior that makes this so difficult for evolutionists to explain. Altruism is the willingness to give of ones self for the benefit of another, with no expectation of personal benefit. Given that these soldiers all die, this is a fine example of altruistic behavior. Evolutionists might argue that this is beneficial for the species and thus would be selected for. This argument is specious for a number of reasons. According to the evolutionists’ own arguments, the whole point of existence is to pass on DNA. These soldiers, by sacrificing themselves for the good of the colony, give up any opportunity to pass on their genetic information. This flies in the face of everything that evolution preaches about how animals operate.
These altruistic soldier aphids are perhaps one of the stronger evidences from insects that points to the failure of evolutionary dogma. There is no mechanism that explains how these soldier aphids got their special abilities, nor how they learned how to use it. Evolutionists have no explanation for this behavior, or the altruism that motivates it.