Thursday, August 23, 2012

False Bombardier Beetle

Crawling amongst the test tubes in the lab where I work was a beautifully colored beetle.   A co-worker came across it and asked me if I knew what type it was.  I knew that it was related to the blister beetles, so I did a little digging and found that it is a False Bombardier Beetle (Galerita bicolor), from the Carabidae family of predatory ground beetles.  Through the employment of mimicry, this beetle appears to be a real bombardier beetle to its predators, which in turn aids it to evade them.  The easiest way to tell the difference is that the false ones, like this one, have a black head, whereas the real bombardier’s head is orange.  True bombardier beetles secrete in a cloud, with an audible popping sound, a mixture of chemicals- hydroquinone and hydrogen peroxide, whereas these beetles have a pair of abdominal defensive glands which contains formic acid (same defense chemical utilized by ants) along with other chemical irritants, which can be sprayed towards a predator or a person who is handling it.

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