lizbrownlee – poet

Poems, animal info, extraordinary women, my books!

B is for Bombardier Beetle #A-ZChallenge

David Hill bomardier beetle

This great close-up photo of a bombardier beetle is by David Hill on Flikr.

Love them or hate them (I love them!), insects are the largest group of organisms on the planet – 900,000 of which have been described by science, leaving an estimated 30,000,000 still to be documented! At any one time there are an estimated 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 insects alive. (Perhaps it’s best not to think about it if you are at all fidgety round them.)

Of the 10 quintillion, beetles are by far the most numerous group, at about 40% of all known insects.

Beetles have filled every available niche and evolved many types of camouflage and protection. Thus, above, the bombardier beetle – innocent-looking little creature isn’t it?

Looks are deceiving in this case, though. This beetle is in possession of one of the most highly-developed and intricate chemical weapons in the insect world.

This one is found in central and southern Europe and North Africa, and also in the south of England and south Wales. But species of bombardier beetle are found all over the world including the USA and Australia.

Its weapon consists of two glands in the rear tip of its abdomen. One of these glands makes hydroquinone, and the other makes hydrogen peroxide. If the beetle is disturbed or attacked, for instance by ants, the glands eject the chemicals into a ‘mixing chamber’ which also contains enzymes.

Once mixed, the chemicals go through an exothermic reaction, raising their temperature to near boiling point. This liquid is then expelled through a vent with a popping, crackling noise, and by rotating its abdomen the beetle can direct this foul-smelling and noxious spray in pulses to wherever it is needed.

And on that rather scary note, I give you my bombardier beetle poem – at the bottom of which is a video of the beetle using its weaponry by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology:

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Bombardier Beetle

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The best beetle weapons

are chemicals from

bombardier beetle’s

exploding bum bomb.

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In any direction

his backside can spray

liquid to boil-blast

enemies away.

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It’s best not to battle,

the bravest expire,

should bombardier beetle’s

hot bottom backfire!

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© Liz Brownlee

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If you’d like to blog hop to the next A-Z Challenge, click here!

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Information:

Smithsonian Institute.

National Wildlife Federation.

Arkive.

Wikipedia.

Photo by David Hill on Flikr by Creative Commons License.

Poem © Liz Brownlee, no reproducing, please.

 

 

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44 Comments

  1. What a gorgeous picture. As a lover of animals of all sorts, including insects, this is a fascinating story. Haven’t met one of these creatures, probably just as well. Thanks for the information.

    Like

    • Thank you, Beverly – I am an insect fan, so many different types and forms, and so important to our survival!

      Like

  2. That’s a cute poem! And interesting facts about our disappearing world. Thank you for sharing. http://spookymrsgreen.com/

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    • Hello, and thank you! Did my comment post on your blog? Something weird happened, the server said it was doing something, and to try again in 5 minutes, which I did, but nothing happened!

      Like

  3. Wow, this little guy has quite the weapon. I think it’d be interesting to see one in real life…every have the chance? Thanks.

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    • Sadly, no, I’d love to see one! But the trouble is there are so many beetles, and many beetles that look very like this one, you could see one and not realise it!

      Like

  4. Lol…bum bomb 🙂
    Good one

    Like

    • Not usually a fan of the word ‘bum’ in a poem, but just occasionally i have to go with the humour… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a great poem based on fascinating beetle info, Liz. My B animal isn’t a beetle, but hopefully quite an interesting chap too.

    Like

    • Thanks, Susan! Will change to my other computer to see yours, now! Can’t comment on this one for some reason…

      Like

  6. Excellent poem and fascinating facts on the Bombardier beetle. Loved bum bomb too.

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    • Thank you, Eve! A quick look at the picture of your blog looks like you are a dog fan, like me, will visit asap!

      Like

  7. That gives new meaning to the phrase ‘lethal farts’.

    Like

  8. What an interesting post! Admittedly, I know very little about the critters roaming around the ground, but their industriousness and abilities could teach humans quite a lot! Thanks for teaching me something today!

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  9. This is brilliant! Nature is magnificent, isn’t it? Sophisticated, deceptively simple… And insects are fascinating. We don’t have much variety here in Curaçao (too dry, too hot, too little vegetation), but I do find some beetles in the garden, and I love the opportunity to watch them go about their business. (I’ve actually refused to let pest control spray for termites, because they couldn’t guarantee that the insecticide wouldn’t kill beetles and butterflies and… well, everything else.)

    Thanks for coming over to Life In Dogs for a chat — and *loved* hearing you have an assistance dog. They’re amazing animals.

    Like

    • Lola has saved my life on many occasions. She is very special! How wonderful that you have cared for the beetles and butterflies, we are also very careful.

      Like

  10. I’m sure there are millions of insects roaming the planet.
    People are inclined to be creeped out by insects…ignorance and misconceptions make people fidgety.
    I enjoyed your fun poem!
    Thanks for sharing!
    Writer In Transit

    Like

    • A quintillion of insects roaming the planet maybe more… unimaginable numbers! Thank you, Michelle!

      Like

  11. It’s just a good thing that the insects aren’t going to rise up against us anytime soon. They have superior numbers and all those weapons at their disposal. And exploding bum bomb made me laugh 😀

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    • Thank you, I’m glad it made you laugh! Yes, just imagine an intelligent insect…

      Like

  12. Your blog is top notch Liz! Everything, from the information, to the video to the language. And I am totally blasted away by that poem 😀 My son is afraid of beetles and he laughed heartily at the poem too. You have made them less scary to him and I must thank you for that!

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    • Thank you, Durbad! I’m so pleased – in fact virtually every beetle is completely harmless! I’m glad your son enjoyed the poem.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. The cats love bugs as they eat them lol Not sure I’d let them near any with bum bombs. That is a lot of bugs too.

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    • Hello, Pat! Isn’t it just! My cat, Milla, love eating bugs. Sometimes we find 6 huge legs on the stairs, in a circle, with just the body missing in the middle…

      Like

  14. Fascinating post. Random question: can all beetles fly?

    Yvonne

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    • Thank you – and no. Virtually all of them can, once adult, the wings are kept under the elytra (the shiny wing cases) but just a few families cannot.

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  15. I hope i NEVER run into a Bombadier beetle! I remember going to see a movie with a friend decades ago that turned out to be all about insects. It was very interesting but surprising because I wasn’t expecting bugs. I have to admit that thinking about the dust mites that eat our dead skin while we sleep does freak me out if I think about it too long. Especially since I saw their photo. 😛

    Like

    • Forgot my signature Finding Eliza

      Like

    • Yes – I’m allergic to dust mites, and wheeze when I’m doing the housework… but still, at least we can’t see them!

      Like

  16. This one has great bone structure, looks hardy. Lol! Iv’e always found closeups of insects facinating,.

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    • Me, too – and you’ve given me an idea of one to do, later on! (Have to make sure the letter fits, though…)

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      • Ha ha, that’s where the challenge comes in:)

        Like

  17. Isn’t quintillion a gorgeous word. Your poem makes me wish I was still teaching so that I could share it with the children who would love it!

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  18. Your poem is great and that video! Yuck a doodle! I don’t know why this came into my head but I thought of a super hero like this. The bombardier farter!

    Like

    • Hehe! Those weapons would make a GREAT hero – or maybe an anti-hero!

      Like

  19. Wow! Nice photo of the beetle. I don’t think I would want to get close to it in real life so I will just look at your photo.
    @AllysePanaro from
    The Frog Lady

    Like

  20. Beetles are one of my favorite bugs but had no idea about this one!
    @bhawnasaini_yml from Yellow Mellow Life

    Like

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