Fun Bombardier Beetle Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 11, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary
Bombardier Beetle are called so because they explode chemical substances as a defense mechanism like a bomb.
?
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.6 Min

If there is one insect whose name matches its characteristics completely, it would have to be the bombardier beetle. The bombardier beetle is one of the most astonishing creations of nature due to its unique defense mechanism which is known throughout the world. Although they have not been found to kill human beings, their actions can definitely hurt humans and even incapacitate them to a large extent. These beetles have fascinated scientists and researchers because of the unique way in which their body works. While many beetles resort to emitting foul-smelling sprays or smells to ward off predators and protect themselves, the bombardier beetles literally detonate a bomb. They cause an explosion of harmful acid from their rear which kills smaller insects near them and can also temporarily prevent a predator from eating them. This characteristic is a result of evolution and is a survival tactic by the otherwise small beetles.

If you've enjoyed reading this information about the bombardier beetle, also check out the articles with facts about the dung beetle and the longhorn beetle!

Bombardier Beetle Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a bombardier beetle?

A bombardier beetle is a type of beetle identified as an insect.

What class of animal does a bombardier beetle belong to?

The bombardier beetle belongs to the class Insecta.

How many bombardier beetles are there in the world?

The exact number of bombardier beetles in the world has not been calculated yet however it has over 500 species throughout the world with almost 40 separate species in the USA alone.

Where does a bombardier beetle live?

Bombardier beetles can survive and thrive on most plains except extremely cold and tundra climates. They are most commonly found in grasslands and woodlands although they can also be found in forests and deserts if it is moist enough for them to breed and find food. It can be found on almost every continent including Asia, North America, Africa, South America, and Europe.

What is a bombardier beetle's habitat?

Bombardier beetles prefer temperate climates and are mostly found in moist environments such as undisturbed riverbanks and floodplains. However, depending on the species, they can also be found in deserts or forests.

Who do bombardier beetles live with?

Any species of beetle are not known to live in packs consciously but can make nesting grounds near one another. The bombardier beetle may also live with others of its kind depending on the region, but mostly stays scattered in different areas looking for food. It can join others of its kind when hunting and this is called a swarm.

How long does a bombardier beetle live?

Bombardier beetles live for few weeks before they perish.

How do they reproduce?

Bombardier beetles lay an unspecified number of eggs in a moist environment where they can turn into larvae in peace without any threat. The breeding ground can also be either plant-based or animal-based dead matter which is in a state of decay. Therefore, they lay eggs in a secure position to protect them from larger predators.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has created certain classifications in the animal kingdom in order to recognize those who are in danger of extinction. While bombardier beetles have not been evaluated or counted by them yet in order to understand the multiple species of bombardier beetles that exist on Earth, scientists do not currently consider bombardier beetles to be vulnerable or in any danger of extinction, since their population is stable. Thus, their status remains Not Evaluated.

Bombardier Beetle Fun facts

What do bombardier beetles look like?

 

Each species of bombardier beetle look different. Those found in the United States of America have a hard shell (elytra) which is blue in color along with a reddish head and thin limbs. They also have wings. Bombardier beetles found in other continents are mostly a mixture of red and brown in color. They have eyes at the center of their face and a large lower body.

How cute are they?

Bombardier beetles are not cute at all! Compared to other beetles such as the ladybug, bombardier beetles are mean-looking small insects that almost resemble ants. In addition to that, the bombardier beetle spray can nearly incapacitate a grown human being. Therefore, scientists and researchers have to be very cautious before coming in close contact with this beetle, as it can be quite dangerous if it feels threatened.

How do they communicate?

Most beetles cannot see very well so they have to resort to other measures for communicating with each other. Bombardier beetles use chemicals in the form of pheromones to send their messages across. At times, they might also use sound or vibration by rubbing on their legs or on the ground to catch the attention of other beetles.

How big is a bombardier beetle?

A bombardier beetle is not big at all and is rather tiny. The size of a bombardier beetle is between 0.25-1.5 in (0.5-3 cm) and they are not taller than 1 in (2.5 cm). A giant spider is almost 10 times the size of a big bombardier beetle.

How fast can a bombardier beetle move?

A bombardier beetle can move moderately fast although it cannot always outrun its prey and has to resort to other defense tactics.

How much does a bombardier beetle weigh?

Although the exact weight of a bombardier beetle is not known, its average weight is around 0.000035 oz (1 mg).

What are their male and female names of the species?

Beetles, including bombardier beetles, do not have separate names for the males and the females of the species. In the disciplines of science and zoology, they are denoted by the terms male and female to help distinguish them from each other.

What would you call a baby bombardier beetle?

Like many other insects, a baby bombardier beetle is also called larva or larvae if there are multiple.

What do they eat?

Bombardier beetles are omnivorous insects but they mostly prey on smaller insects and larvae for their food. They also eat detritus and act as a scavenger in helping decompose vegetation.

Are they poisonous?

Bombardier beetles are not poisonous but are venomous and have a sac near their abdomen which is filled with noxious fluid and chemicals. Whenever the beetles see a predator or are maybe eaten or swallowed by one such as frogs, they let go of the chemical spray from their chamber as a defense tactic. This poisonous spray is created through a chemical interaction among two chemicals - hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide. These two are kept in the chamber of the beetle. When hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide mix, they create a watery solution, and through a complex reaction with the help of catalytic agents, a lot of energy is released. This is due to the oxidation of the chemical hydrogen peroxide and the breaking down of chemical hydroquinone. This released energy from the chemicals has an incredibly high temperature of 212 F (100 C). The beetle then ejects the hot liquid from its body with a loud sound. These beetles have a sufficient amount of chemical hydroquinone and chemical hydrogen peroxide to allow them to spray around 20 times. If the predator is quite small or not big enough, the bombardier beetle's chemical spray is enough to kill them. These chemicals essentially help the bombardier beetle and grant it a unique poison that is not replicated in any other type of beetle on earth.

Would they make a good pet?

Bombardier beetles would not make a good pet at all as they are wild insects that cannot stay in a domestic environment. In addition to that, if threatened, they can get quite dangerous and cause an explosion that will cause a bombardier beetle to burn. A bombardier beetle's spray full of chemicals is quite toxic and can cause skin abrasions on humans and even burn their skin off. If the toxic spray reaches the eye or the respiratory system, it can cause irritation and temporary damage. Such dangerous characteristics are important for the survival of the beetle but can be quite harmful to the rest of the animals and people in its vicinity. If any human does get attacked by the bombardier beetle and in the process comes into contact with the harmful spray of chemicals, then they would feel a burning sensation along with charred skin.

Did you know...

Science has obviously taken an interest in the defensive mechanism of the bombardier beetles which are a miracle of evolution. They are interested to study the beetle and the explosive enzymes it ejects from its abdomen in order to study the enzymes better and also to create cures for the bodily harm they might cause. In addition to that, scientists and those engaged in science see the beetle as an opportunity to understand how newer technologies for blast mitigation and propulsion can be created. They see the beetle and take notes from the beetle's explosion of enzymes to understand how it does not hurt itself but specifically harms its enemies.

The key behind the bombardier beetle harming its predators but never itself in the process is due to its special system and its abdomen. This insect has a sophisticated internal network and has a chamber in its body to ensure that the explosive enzymes cannot attack its own body. The sophisticated chamber system in its abdomen ensures that the explosive chemicals do not react with each other at all times but only when needed.

How does the bombardier beetle protect itself?

The science of the mechanism behind the bombardier beetle fire is quite interesting especially because it is a defense mechanism against predators. This beetle has used evolution to create a defensive tactic that uses an explosive, noxious substance to free itself from its predators. This defensive instinct is helped because of the unique chamber it has in its body. The spray from the bombardier beetles consists of a nuanced chemical reaction that produces boiling hot chemicals. The abdominal tip through which they eject the corrosive chemicals can be rotated to at least 270 degrees. This allows them to easily fire at their predators wherever they are and protect themselves. According to science, through a sophisticated evolutionary process, the existence of chemicals hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide helps this beetle to survive. This beetle's noxious spray is enough to protect itself from larger predators.

How many species of bombardier beetle are there?

Since the bombardier beetle is found throughout the world in different shapes and forms, there are many species of the bombardier beetle. Through studies, it can be estimated that there are more than 500 species of the bombardier beetle. Some of the tribes of the bombardier beetle are Pausini, Brachinini, and Metriini. There are around 40 species of bombardier beetles in the United States alone.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other anthropods including the puss moth, or the earwig.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our Bombardier beetle coloring pages.

Bombardier Beetle Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small insects

What Type of Animal were they?

Insects

Average Litter Size?

Unknown

How Much Did They Weigh?

0.000035 oz (1 mg)

What habitat Do they Live In?

temperate grasslands

Where Do They Live?

every continent except antarctica

How Long Were They?

0.25-1.5 in (0.5-3 cm)

How Tall Were They?

Approximately 1 in (2.5 cm)

Class

Insecta

Genus

Brachinus, Pherosophus

Family

Carabidae

Scientific Name

Brachinus crepitans, Pheropsophus aequinoctialis

What Do They Look Like?

Brown or red

Skin Type

Hard shell

What Are Their Main Threats?

larger insects and carnivores, frogs

What is their Conservation Status?

Not Evaluated
We Want Your Photos!
We Want Your Photos!

We Want Your Photos!

Do you have a photo you are happy to share that would improve this article?
Email your photos

More for You

Sources

www.nwf.orgen.wikipedia.orgwww.nationalgeographic.com

See All

Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

Read full bio >