Apr 10, 2008


Dr. Thomas Eisner has traveled the world over taking photographs of nature, many of which had never been caught on film before. One of my favorite is the photo below.

This is a bombardier beetle doing what bombardier beetles do best: bombarding. These bugs have two glands on their posterior, one filled with hydroquinone and one with hydrogen peroxide. When threatened, they point their posterior towards their targets and squirt. The two sprays intermingle en route to the target, are mixed with a small amount of catalytic enzymes, and undergo a "violent exothermic reaction. The boiling, foul-smelling liquid partially becomes a gas and is expelled with a loud popping sound." Each such attack results in 70 individual shots.

This spray is fatal to attacking insects and small animals. It is painful to human skin.

Built-in, boiling pepper spray. That would be very useful. My own posterior glands produce nothing but sweat, which, though it eventually makes for a foul odor, does not have the defensive capacity of the bombardier beetle.

Thanks for the article, Ida.

Photo source: Thomas Eisner and Daniel Aneshansley via The New York Times via National Geographic

1 comment:

Nickolus Roy said...

thats really freaking cool