Be smart and don’t irritate a bombardier beetle. When irritated, this fiesty bombardier beetle will shoot boiling hot chemicals out of its rear to fight off incoming predators.
According to scientists at the University of Arizona, who recently published a paper that shows exactly how the bombardier beetle is able to fire its chemical spray. Of course, using a robotic arm to stimulate the beetle, the team took movie footage and x-rays of the spraying in action to better understand the underlying physiological process. See the video of the bombardier beetle!
The video footage shows that the individual blasts are not because of muscle contractions, as originally thought. Rather, a very specific reaction of chemicals and enzymes in the bombardier beetle’s reaction chamber creates oxygen, water vapor and heat, the build up of which then forces the chemical blast out of the beetle. The chemical reactions occur in a pulsed pattern, similar to a machine gun firing.
“By having a pulsed delivery, these small beetles produce a relatively large amount of defensive spray, which they can aim precisely and with great force and speed,” Moore said. “This is truly one of the most remarkable and elegant defensive mechanisms documented to date.”
Moore hopes to use her beetle research to new design principles for blast mitigation and propulsion technologies.Future science anyone?