Chemically Creative Creatures

When disturbed, which creature will eject a hot noxious chemical spray from its abdomen?

And the answer: bombardier beetle.

A bombardier beetle displays its chemistry skills

Inside the bombardier beetle's abdomen are two chambers: one houses hydrogen peroxide, and the other has a chemical called hydroquinone. When the beetle feels threatened, it combines the two chemical compounds in a separate chamber, and then releases the mixture in rapid-fire spurts.

Interestingly, bombardier beetles do not come in a single form. There are over 500 types of "bomb"-dropping beetles across the globe, with some on every continent except Antarctica. They live in many different ecosystems, from forests to grasslands to deserts. Most are around the size of a fingernail, and many have dark-colored abdomens with reddish legs, heads, and antennae.

The beetles' explosive emissions can save their life even after being ingested by another, larger animal. Frogs have been known to regurgitate bombardier beetles after the bug releases its toxins into the frog's stomach. Though the emission usually is not enough to do any real damage to their predator, it frees them from capture and creates time for the beetles to make their escape. Talk about a dramatic exit!

Did you know?

According to a study conducted at MIT, if the beetles' explosion chamber were the same size as the inside of a car, the blast would release the same amount of energy as about two pounds of TNT. With a response time of about 0.1 milliseconds, it's safe to say that we're better off having just one to two inches of these formidable creatures.

Check out this article to learn more, and watch the video below to see a bombardier in action.



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