Friday, September 07, 2007

Explosions made by bombardier beetles

The bombardier beetle gets its name from the explosive sound it gives off when threatened, loosing up to 50 burning, chemical volleys of heat, colour and noise from a 'gun barrel' situated in the tip of its abdomen.

To take aim, the beetle swivels its abdomen from side to side and fires straight at an attacking insect or frog. The attacker is left with a nasty taste in the mouth and even minor burns.

The beetle's body manufactures and stores the chemical ingredients needed for the volleys. When a bombardier beetle is under stress, the liquid chemicals are forced out of cavities in its body into a thick-walled, heat-resistant 'explosion chamber' in its abdomen. Here, a rapid chemical reaction takes place that turns the liquids into gases and water. As pressure builds up in the chamber, the bubbling chemicals squirt out in a series of rapid bursts.

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