MAR 09, 2020 3:32 PM PDT

These Beetles Protect Themselves From Predators by Spraying Acid

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

At first glance, oogpister and bombardier beetles may look just like any other beetle, but it sports a uniquely interesting capability that helps it evade predators that might otherwise try to sink their teeth into it.

Once a predator locks its eye on the beetle, it goes in for the kill. Once captured, the beetles struggle to hold its own, but when the timing is just right, the insect takes aim and sprays acid from its hindquarters directly into the predator’s face. In this case, the predator was a hungry mongoose, but it quickly learned its lesson after feeling the spray.

Scientists still aren’t entirely sure where these beetles get their acid spray from, but one theory suggests that they may stockpile the acid from the many ants they eat. These beetles often storm ant colonies, plucking at the insects one-by-one. Ants may try to defend themselves by biting at the beetles’ ankles, but the latter merely kicks them away and runs after it becomes too overwhelming.

Other critters of prey, including small lizards, appear to notice and mimic the beetles’ color warning signs and walking behavior. Doing so helps these animals avoid predation, as many predators know to avoid things that behave like these feisty beetles due to their special ability.

Related: Watch what happens when brave ant explorers engage a termite colony

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
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