Beetle Facts

The Bombardier Beetle is found in :

Asia 2 cms

North America approx 1-2 cms long

South America approx 1-2 cms long

Africa – approx 2-3 cms long

even in Europe, but usually small – approx 1 cm long

They tend to reside in the South of England….

…. and they are found usually under rocks, and close to water

BBeetle description with Turret

The Bombardier beetle is able to defend itself against a predator, such as an ant or a spider, a bird or a frog which want to eat it for breakfast…. Usually the bombardier beetle wins! It does not kill its attacker but shocks it with a mixture of hot quinone and steam which is enough usually to ward off the spider or ant – no insects or arachnids like quinones and particularly hot chemicals in their face. Birds will not try to take the spitting beetle, and it has been known for bombardier beetles to continue to squirt inside the mouth of a frog, such that the frog then spits it out again.

Much of the initial work experimentally has been done at Cornell University under the leadership of Professor Tom Eisner.

BBeetle Defence Mechanism

Click on the video to see and hear the typical sound that a bombardier beetle makes when it squirts the blast out of its rear facing tube – though it can bring this to blast in any direction it wishes, even over its head….!

Below is another Bombardier Beetle clip from the film “Alien Empire” which demonstrates the power of the explosive force coming from the beetle…

Beetle Defence

The Bombardier Beetle has a special chamber like a munitions factory, where it combines two chemicals together to form an explosive blast on demand. The two chemicals are Hydroquinone and Hydrogen Peroxide.

BBeetle Chemistry

The defence mechanism not only requires sophisticated chemistry but also a valve system such that an inlet valve cuts off more fuel while an exhaust valve opens out and shoots boiling caustic liquid at the attacker.BBeetle Explosion cycle.jpg

The beetle invariably wins when attacked by a bird, frog, and ant or a spider. It has even been observed that a wolf spider can lose a leg in such encounter.

The Bombardier Beetle system is similar to the V1 of World War II in the repeated explosions that it used in that case for propulsion.

BBeetle 001