Green living: Bombardier Beetle

Freak of Nature Fridays: Farting Bombardier Beetles

Pic by arboreal boids

Meet the Bombardier Beetle. This little stink bug has the best defense mechanism of all; noxious chemical farts. That’s right, get on the wrong side of the Bombardier (Carabidae) and it will spray its poisonous farts in your general direction.

The Bombardier beetle stores two kinds of chemicals in its abdomen; hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide. When it gets upset, these chemicals are released to a chamber where they are mixed with water and catalytic enzymes. A chemical reaction begins to take place, the heat from which reaches near boiling point. It also produces gas which builds up in the chamber until the Bombardier erupts, spraying near-boiling chemical liquid farts all over everything and everyone.

The noxious fart spray is painful to humans, but it is often fatal for attacking insects. From Wikipedia:

“The reaction is very exothermic, and the released energy raises the temperature of the mixture to near 100 C, vaporizing about a fifth of it. The resultant pressure buildup forces the entrance valves from the reactant storage chambers to close, thus protecting the beetle’s internal organs. The boiling, foul-smelling liquid partially becomes a gas by flash evaporation and is expelled explosively through an outlet valve, with a loud popping sound. The flow of reactants into the reaction chamber and subsequent ejection occur in a series of about 70 pulses, at a rate of about 500 pulses per second. The whole sequence of events takes only a fraction of a second.”

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Nikki is an author and writer specializing in green living ideas and tips, adventure travel, upcycling, and all things eco-friendly. She's traveled the globe, swum with sharks and been bitten by a lion (fact). She lives in a tiny town with a fat cat and a very bad dog.

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