Bombardier (Beetle): Description and Features
Everything created by nature is incredible and rational. She gave creatures not only a unique appearance, but also the ability to stand up for themselves. The real superhero from the world of insects is the bombardier beetle. This article will tell about the features of the structure of his body, lifestyle and value for a person.
Appearances are deceptive
Bombardier is a beetle belonging to one of the subfamilies Brachininae (brakhinins) or Paussinae (Paussines). Both belong to ground beetles.
Insects have a completely normal appearance, nothing extraordinary when meeting with them you will not find. The size of the beetle varies from a few millimeters to 1-3 cm. Its body and legs are colored bright red, sometimes dark brown. Most members of the family of ground beetles lack the ability to fly, but they can move on their six legs very quickly. Hard elytra are most often colored black and blue, but there are individuals with a beautiful greenish tint.Some insects on the back have a pattern of round spots of a contrasting color. The whiskers consist of segments connected in a row with a length of up to 0.8 cm.
Representatives of Brachininae and Paussinae are almost ubiquitous, except for Antarctica. In Primorye, there is a bursting bombardier beetle. Where does the insect live? It prefers areas with high humidity - near water bodies, along rivers and lakes. Adult individuals live on the grass, under stones and snags.
This type of insect is active at night. Large groups of scorers go fishing, earning their own food. These predators prefer to feast on foreign larvae and worms, but they do not disdain their dead tribesmen. During the day, they safely hide in dark places - under stones, fallen trees, in small crevices.
Reproduction, developmental stage
At the end of the mating season, the female is removed to lay eggs. She will have to work hard to roll the earth into small balls that will serve as a container for the future larva. In each soil lump is placed one egg.
Ground beetles are carnivorous beetles, and it does not cost anything to destroy someone else’s offspring. This is what the larvae do.Emerging into the world, they find the pupae of other insects and eat away their inner parts, starting from the head. Most often the victims are bears. An empty chitinous shell will become a new home for the larvae. There, another metamorphosis awaits them, as a result of which a pupa will first form and then a young scorer will emerge. The beetle goes through a full life cycle in just 15 days.
Fight your enemies!
Since ground beetles do not know how to fly, nature has endowed them with another protective function. If you can’t quickly get away from the enemy, the insect bombardier (bug) enters the battle. It emits a hot stream of caustic substance. Small but annoying ants can die from a shot. Larger predators get quite tangible burns and will not again risk attacking the enemy.
Enemies in the subfamily Brachininae and Paussinae abound. They are eager to feast on amphibians - frogs, lizards. Birds are also not averse to taste the beetle snack. Stubborn ants are trying to attack in a few tricks, because the houses are waiting for them with their prey. Nature gave the scorer a bright color of the head and legs for a reason. It is a signal to other inhabitants of the animal world.Seeing warning colors (red, orange, bright yellow), many will think before the attack, but is it worth it?
The ability to scald the enemy with a jet of poisonous boiling water is not the last surprise for the enemies of an insect such as a scorer (beetle). Features of evolutionary development have turned the lower segments of the abdomen in precision weapons. At times of danger, an individual is able to deploy its "gun" by 270 degrees. This gives her the opportunity to conduct aimed fire in various directions.
Not one shot escapes from the tail segment. Entomologists have conducted numerous studies using various equipment. In slow motion it is clear that the bug makes a whole cannonade of volleys. Moreover, the longer the insect rested from using its formidable weapon, the more productive its use will be. In a few minutes you can see up to 30 “shots”. Then the beetle will take time to "reload" the weapon. Even getting to the predators "to the teeth", the scorer is not lost. He attacks the foe’s mouth, causing severe burns. This production is very few people like it.
Almost all carnivorous beetles have the ability to excrete unpleasant liquids for predators. Unlike other representatives of ground beetles, brakhinins and paussis heat up their “charge” and can conduct aimed fire.
The most studied Brachininae, in particular, the striker striker. He is a unique member of the beetle family. Karl Linney - a great biologist who devoted his life to work on the classification of flora and fauna, first described and studied the insect. Crackle Scorer is a beetle capable of emitting up to 500 rounds per second. The cannonade is accompanied by a loud sound and the release of toxic fog. He has a modest appearance for such outstanding abilities: reddish-red legs and head, body length less than 1 cm, dark elytra, painted in blue-green tones.
Although for a human beetle does not represent a serious threat, it is better to refrain from close examination of individuals. Once in the eye, a jet of hot poison can completely deprive of sight. By taking an insect in your hands, you risk getting small but very painful burns.
Paussinae are less studied, but of great interest to entomologists.Among its fellow subfamily stands out the structure of the whiskers, which have a different shape. They may resemble a feather or be flat. The bombardier beetle (the photo can be seen in the article) from the Paussin tribe looks very impressive.
These individuals are otherwise called myrmophiles. The special structure of their body allows them to sit in anthills and live inside someone else's house. The abyss may be narrow and long, as well as squat and flat. The special glands of beetles produce a secret that puts to sleep the vigilance of ants, which they take for their relatives. Such cohabitation can hardly be called symbiosis, because only one side benefits. Malicious insects feed at the expense of others and absorb the young ants.
Entomologists carried out a lot of experiments before understanding the structure of the insect bombardier weapon (bug). The description of the processes proceeding inside, it was possible to receive only with use of the special equipment. By preparation, scientists found that the cavity of the abdomen of the individual has two small glands. Each of them produces and accumulates substances of different chemical composition — hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone.
And the process of interaction of reagents and their release was carefully studied by the staff of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The team of Christina Ortiz used synchrotron X-ray photography to learn all the secrets of the natural defense of the scorers.
Work has shown that a series of physical and chemical changes occur inside the abdomen. The reaction chamber (in which the components are mixed) is equipped with a thick layer of chitin and has several elastic membrane valves. One of them allows chemical compounds to get into the tank, after which it blocks the return flow of the reactants. The upper region of the chamber swells and presses against the lower. When the pressure rises to the maximum, the membrane of the last abdominal segment opens and releases a hot stream to the outside.
In order to figure out what the bombardier beetles are shooting at their opponents, they will have to go into chemistry. One of the reservoirs releases hydroquinone and the second hydrogen peroxide. The reaction chamber has small glands that produce catalase and peroxidase. Before the shot, the beetle squeezes them, spilling the contents into the reactor.Two chemical processes take place in this tank - enzymes decompose the peroxide to atomic oxygen. It converts hydroquinones to quinones. Both reactions take place with the release of large amounts of thermal energy, which heats the mixture to 100 degrees. The pressure inside the chamber increases and, having passed the equilibrium point, opens the outer valve.
Insect independently regulates aiming and the process of emission of a poisonous jet. Its speed can reach 8 m / s, and the range of clouds varies from 1 to 10 cm.
Why doesn't the scorer explode?
Why, in the presence of such a dangerous laboratory inside, does the bombardier bug itself explode? Interesting facts were discovered by scientists on the basis of multiple studies. The very elastic valves that regulate the processes of supplying reagents and their release are a protective element. The contraction of the membranes reduces the pressure and prevents an explosion inside the body of the tiny “chemist”. The beetle independently regulates the release process and the number of volleys. Evolution has taught the beetle to control the thickness of their physical skin.
Fast reload "gun" allows you to make several shots at intervals of a split second.For such an insignificant time, the reaction chamber has time to cool down and save the individual from possible overheating. The beetle has a gland that produces an inhibitor that can quickly quench a chemical reaction.
Scientists from the UK claim that the disclosure of the secrets of the mechanism of the "gun" of the beetle can be applied in aviation. It is not excluded that the features of jet ejection will form the basis of the restart system of jet engines. Aircraft engineers want to create an apparatus capable of precisely injecting plasma into the combustion chamber.
Since the “cannon” of the bombardier beetle has a high accuracy of impact, weapons are being developed that can repeat the success of an insect. Brakhinin's protective functions are compared to the principle of the German V-1 bombs.
Theological discussion participant
Bombardier is a beetle that has become a real stumbling block among creationists. These people have developed a special theory, according to which all life on Earth was due to the actions of the “Higher Mind”. Some adherents argue that such a complex defense system could not be the result of a long evolution.If the various parts of the "laboratory" developed gradually, then this species of beetles could not survive. According to the theory, the “Higher Mind” created a project and suddenly gave insects a protective mechanism of divine origin.
Entomologists have refuted the creationist religious attacks. The large number of varieties of subfamilies Brahinin and Paussin contributed to the knowledge of the various mechanisms of formation of substances in the reaction chambers and methods of shooting. This allowed to draw conclusions about the approximate process of evolutionary changes in the defense system of beetles. Scientists claim that nature has made a contribution with an emphasis on strengthening the walls of the reaction chamber and increasing the elasticity of the valves.