Did you guess this week’s Mystery Creature? It was the Bombardier Beetle… a little bug that packs a big punch when threatened!
When the bonbardier beetle is threatened it uses some serious chemical warfare against the predator – shooting a hot burning chemical spray out his rear end! Although more than 500 of these ground beetles exist they all have the same method of defense. It is all down to the storage of two chemicals (in most species – hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone), within a reservoir in the abdomen of the beetle. When threatened the beetle releases both chemicals into another chamber – a thick walled firing chamber where catalytic enzymes are release kicking off the reaction. Temperatures rapidly rise to near boiling causing an explosion that propels the hot toxic spray out valves at the tip of the abdomen. The spray is accompanied by a short popping sound.
It seems these impressive defense mechanisms are even inspiring research into aircraft safety mechanisms in the event of engine failure!
Bombardier beetles belong to the family Carabediae and are found on all continents except Antartica.