APR 15, 2018 6:46 PM PDT

A Microbe Helps Beetles Ruin Coffee

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Learn more from this video about an interesting survival strategy employed by a tiny beetle, the coffee berry borer beetle. They're only a few millimeters long, but they can disrupt coffee supplies as they chow down on coffee plants. Native to Africa, the females have a short lifespan of up to 190 days, and the males only live up to 40 days. These males usually live out their whole life on only one coffee plant, where they bore in and mate with females, who can then lay their eggs their or in another plant.

The caffeine in the coffee plants would be toxic to other insects. But the beetles carry microbes along with them called Pseudomonas fulva. That bacterium can break the caffeine down, allowing the beetle to survive and reproduce.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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