Have you seen a bombardier beetle yet? If you are a tiny bug in a big bad world, you will need to employ some tricks and creativity to keep from being eaten alive by big predators. When it comes to insect defensive strategy, the bombardier beetle has one of the most unusual defense techniques ever known to animal kingdom.
Judging its size and color this insect may seem to be an ordinary beetle. But when endangered, bombardier beetle literally bombards its potential attacker with an irritating mixture of corrosive chemicals reaching up to 212° F (100° C). The most amusing part is that this tiny creature can aim its poisonous bombardment to its predator.
How does this miraculous explosion happen? Bombardier beetles possess two specialized types of chambers in their abdomen that mixes powerful chemicals and enzymes which triggers eruption. Entomologists believe that this explosion do not hurt these insects in any way.
This concoction doesn’t intend to kill or seriously harm larger organisms; squirts of this insect can burn and blemish your skin. Perfectly combined with the element of surprise, this wonderful mechanism is proved to be so effective in driving off hungry predators and curious humans.
Bombardier beetles are classified under the family Carabidae known as the ground beetles. Are looking forward to meeting these sneaky explosive experts? You have to spare some time during the night time because they are nocturnal. Focus your search along river banks and lakes; they are known to hide in the wet debris along the banks.
Bombardier Beetle Facts
Scientific names: Pheropsophus verticalis
Bombardier beetles are found in almost all of the continents except Antarctica. Beetles of this type usually live in grasslands and forests in temperate regions but can also thrive in moist environments such as river banks and lakes. They visit moist places to lay their eggs there.
Most of the species of this beetle is considered to be carnivorous including its larva. These insects are active during the night hunting their food. They flock with other member of the species when they are not looking for food.
Bombardier Beetle Defense mechanism
Hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide are the reactants responsible for the explosive behavior of this beetle. These chemicals are secreted by special glands and deposited in isolated containers or chambers situated in the tip of its abdomen. When endangered, the muscles responsible for opening the valves of these chambers contract producing the enzymes catalases and peroxidases.
When .hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone are mixed together, it will create an exothermic reaction that that rises up to a hundred degrees Celsius.
Photo: Thomas Eisner