10 Fascinating Facts About Beetles
10 Fascinating Facts About Beetles
- 1 10 Fascinating Facts About Beetles
- 2 Interesting Behaviors and Traits of Beetles
- 3 One out of Every Four Animals on Earth Is a Beetle
- 4 Beetles Live Everywhere
- 5 Most Adult Beetles Wear Body Armor
- 6 Beetles Vary Dramatically in Size
- 7 Adult Beetles Chew Their Food
- 8 Beetles Have a Big Impact on the Economy
- 9 Beetles Can Be Noisy
- 10 Some Beetles Glow in the Dark
- 11 Weevils Are Beetles, Too
- 12 Beetles Have Been Around for About 270 Million Years
- 13 10 Weird and Fun Facts about Insects
- 14 Dung beetle-An insect with unusual diet
- 15 10 Insects with Amazing Superpowers
- 16 10. Cockroaches
- 17 9. Bees
- 18 8. Locusts
- 19 7. Fireflies
- 20 6. Fleas
- 21 5. Dung Beetles
- 22 4. Dragonflies
- 23 3. Ants
- 24 2. Voodoo Wasps
- 25 1. Bombardier Beetle
Interesting Behaviors and Traits of Beetles
Getty Images / Carola Vahldiek
- B.A., Political Science, Rutgers University
Beetles inhabit nearly every ecological niche on the planet. This group includes some of our most beloved bugs, as well as our most reviled pests. Here are 10 fascinating facts about beetles, our largest insect order.
One out of Every Four Animals on Earth Is a Beetle
Beetles are the largest group of living organisms known to science, bar none. Even with plants included in the count, one in every five known organisms is a beetle. Scientists have described over 350,000 species of beetles, with many more still undiscovered, undoubtedly. By some estimates, there may be as many as 3 million beetle species living on the planet. The order Coleoptera is the largest order in the entire animal kingdom.
Beetles Live Everywhere
You can find beetles almost anywhere on the planet, from pole to pole, according to entomologist Stephen Marshall. They inhabit both terrestrial and freshwater aquatic habitats, from forests to grasslands, deserts to tundras, and from beaches to mountaintops. You can even find beetles on some of the world’s most remote islands. The British geneticist (and atheist) J. B. S. Haldane is purported to have said that God must have an «inordinate fondness for beetles.» Perhaps this accounts for their presence and number in every corner of this globe we call Earth.
Most Adult Beetles Wear Body Armor
One of the traits that make beetles so easy to recognize is their hardened forewings, which serve as armor to protect the more delicate flight wings and soft abdomen underneath. The famed philosopher Aristotle coined the order name Coleoptera, which comes from the Greek koleon, meaning sheathed, and ptera, meaning wings. When beetles fly, they hold these protective wing covers (called elytra) out to the sides, allowing the hindwings to move freely and keep them airborne.
Beetles Vary Dramatically in Size
As you would expect from a group of insects so numerous, beetles range in size from nearly microscopic to downright gigantic. The shortest beetles are the featherwing beetles (family Ptiliidae), most of which measure less than 1 millimeter long. Of these, the smallest of all is a species called the fringed ant beetle, Nanosella fungi, which reaches only 0.25 mm in length and weighs just 0.4 milligrams. On the other end of the size spectrum, the Goliath beetle (Goliathus goliathus) tips the scales at 100 grams. The longest known beetle hails from South America. The appropriately named Titanus giganteus can reach 20 centimeters long.
Adult Beetles Chew Their Food
That might seem obvious, but not all insects do so. Butterflies, for example, sip liquid nectar from their own built-in straw, called a proboscis. One common trait all adult beetles and most beetle larvae share is mandibulate mouthparts, made just for chewing. Most beetles feed on plants, but some (like ladybugs) hunt and eat smaller insect prey. Carrion feeders use those strong jaws to gnaw on skin or hides. A few even feed on fungus. Whatever they’re dining on, beetles chew their food thoroughly before swallowing. In fact, the common name beetle is thought to derive from the Old English word bitela, meaning little biter.
Beetles Have a Big Impact on the Economy
Only a tiny fraction of the overall insect population can be considered pests; most insects never cause us any trouble at all. But because so many are phytophagous, the order Coleoptera does include quite a few pests of economic importance. Bark beetles (like the mountain pine beetle) and wood-borers (such as the exotic emerald ash borer) kill millions of trees each year. Farmers spend millions on pesticides and other controls for agricultural pests like the western corn rootworm or the Colorado potato beetle. Pests like the Khapra beetle feed on stored grains, causing more economic losses well after the harvest is completed. Just the money spent by gardeners on Japanese beetle pheromone traps (some would say money wasted on pheromone traps) is greater than the GDP of some small countries!
Beetles Can Be Noisy
Many insects are famous for their sounds. Cicadas, crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids all serenade us with songs. Many beetles produce sounds, too, although not nearly as melodic as those of their Orthopteran cousins. Deathwatch beetles bang their heads again the walls of their wood tunnels, making a surprisingly loud knocking sound. Some darkling beetles tap their abdomens on the ground. A good number of beetles stridulate, particularly when handled by humans. Have you ever picked up a June beetle? Many, like the ten-lined June beetle, will squeal when you do. Both male and female bark beetles chirp, probably as a courtship ritual and a means of finding one another.
Some Beetles Glow in the Dark
Species in certain beetle families produce light. Their bioluminescence occurs through a chemical reaction involving an enzyme called luciferase. Fireflies (family Lampyridae) flash signals to attract potential mates, with a light organ on the abdomen. In glowworms (family Phengodidae), the light organs run down the sides of the thoracic and abdominal segments, like tiny glowing windows on a railroad boxcar (and thus their nickname, railroad worms). Glowworms also sometimes have an additional light organ on the head, which glows red! Tropical click beetles (family Elateridae) also produce light by virtue a pair of oval light organs on the thorax and a third light organ on the abdomen.
Weevils Are Beetles, Too
Weevils, easily recognized by their elongated, almost comical beaks, are really just a type of beetle. The superfamily Curculionoidea includes the snout beetles and various types of weevils. When you look at a weevil’s long snout, you might assume they feed by piercing and sucking their meal, much like the true bugs. But don’t be fooled, weevils belong to the order Coleoptera. Just as all other beetles do, weevils have mandibulate mouthparts made for chewing. In the case of the weevil, however, the mouthparts are usually tiny and are found just at the tip of that long beak. Many weevils cause significant damage to their plant hosts, and for this reason, we consider them pests.
Beetles Have Been Around for About 270 Million Years
The first beetle-like organisms in the fossil record date back to the Permian Period, roughly 270 million years ago. True beetles — those that resemble our modern-day beetles — first appeared about 230 million years ago. Beetles were already in existence before the breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea, and they survived the K/T extinction event thought to have doomed the dinosaurs. How have beetles survived for so long, and withstood such extreme events? As a group, beetles have proved remarkably adept at adapting to ecological changes.
10 Weird and Fun Facts about Insects
by Unbelievable Facts Apr 9, 2019, 6:23 pm 1.3k Views Comments Off on 10 Weird and Fun Facts about Insects
If you are one of those people who loved being outdoors as a child, then you know what fun it is to chase a butterfly, to try and catch dragonflies, or to just look at ants moving in line carrying their food. While our childhood is now gone, the world of insects still remains as awesome as it was then. Every day we encounter hundreds of these insects and dismiss them away as unimportant. But investing a bit more time will reveal what busy and interesting lives these insects lead and the facts related to them. Keep reading to find out 10 weird and fun facts about insects.
1. Dung beetles can navigate only when the Milky Way or clusters of bright stars are visible and are the only insect known to orient itself by use of the galaxy.
Dung beetles are tiny beetles that feed mainly on excrement (dung). When they sniff out a steaming pile of fresh feces, the dung beetles gather around it. The males painstakingly create balls out of the dung and then roll them away from the mound sometimes taking along a female that he had picked up. Then the pair bury the dung which later serves as food for their offspring. The most noticeable aspect of this whole process is that the dung beetle always rolls away the dung ball from the feces mound in a straight line despite all obstacles.
Also, dung beetles can navigate in a straight line even at night and is the only known insect to do so. Scientists have found that dung beetles find their way according to the Milky Way. They also use the lights from star clusters to direct their way. In a single night, a dung beetle can bury dung 250 times heavier than itself. (1, 2)
2. Bees don’t buzz during an eclipse. Bees remain active and noisy right up to the last moments before totality. As totality hits, the bees all go silent in unison.
On the eve of the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017, ecologist Candace Galen of the University of Missouri conducted an experiment. She, along with a team of researchers and a few hundred elementary school students, decided to find out how honey bees respond during a solar eclipse. Earlier that day, they suspended tiny microphones among flowers to record the buzzing of the bees throughout the eclipse.
During the eclipse, the team found out that the bees continue to buzz up to the last moment before totality. Totality is that stage of a total solar eclipse when the Moon completely blocks all direct sunlight. The team observed that as soon as totality hit, the bees abruptly went silent. Even moments before totality, the bees were actively flying and nosily buzzing around, but they all stopped in unison as totality hit. Professor Galen made the observation that during the eclipse as it gradually got darker, the buzzes lasted longer. This suggests that as the total eclipse was approaching, the bees were taking longer flights and flying more slowly. (source)
3. The blue wings of the morpho dragonfly are surprisingly alive. Scientists found a respiratory system in these wings, the first time this has been seen in any insect.
When insects are born, their wings are alive. As they morph into adults, the cells of wings begin to dry. Only the veins remain alive. The dried-out zones either become clear or are covered in colored patches bordered by the network of veins. Only these veins have a life-support system including nerves, respiratory tubes, etc. The rest of the wing is dried up and dead as a person’s toenail clippings. But entomologist Guillermo Ferreira of Kiel University, Germany was in for a great shock when he saw the scanning-electron-microscope image of the morpho dragonfly’s wings. He saw that the striking blue wings are fully alive.
The morpho dragonfly is the only insect whose wings have been found to be alive. Ferreira found out that the wings had an unusual, tracheal, respiratory system. According to him, the blue color of their wings is probably due to the live wings. The blue pigment is actually not present on the morpho dragonfly wings. The wings look blue due to a living layer of structure that plays tricks with light. (source)
4. The adolescents of the planthopper bug are the first living things discovered to have evolved mechanical gears. They’re located in its legs and enable it to jump at an acceleration of 400 g in 2 ms.
The first person to invent a mechanical gear was a Greek mechanic who built it sometime around 300 BCE. As it turns out, nature had already experimented in this field through a hopping insect, Issus coleoptratus, also known as the “planthopper bug.” It is also the first living creature ever discovered that has an actual gear system in its body. The juveniles of this species have an intricate system of functioning gears in their back legs.
The juvenile Planthopper bugs jump by locking their legs into a leap-ready position. The minuscule pair of gears at the top of their legs interlock their teeth like a zipper. The appendages rotate at the same instant, and, within a blink of an eye, the bug skyrockets away accelerating at the speed of 400 g. The creature is less than one-tenth of an inch long, and, at its top speed, it can reach more than eight miles-per-hour! (1, 2)
5. The ears of the katydid are located on their legs and are quite similar to human ears, complete with the entomological versions of eardrums, ossicles, and cochleas.
Katydids, also known as “bush crickets,” are golden-faced, nocturnal insects with a miniature unicorn horn on their heads. They are noted for their mating calls which are sung in an ultrasound frequency range. Katydids can hear sounds in the frequency ranging from 5,000 to 50,000 hertz. They hear sounds through their two, human-like ears, one on each front leg located just below their knees.
The ears of katydids are less than a millimeter long and quite similar to human ears. Human ears are divided into three main parts: the eardrum, the ossicles, and the cochlea. Katydids have a similar auditory system. They have eardrums which vibrate when a sound wave hits them. The ossicle is a fluid-filled vesicle which transmits the vibrations. The vesicle also acts like a simplified cochlea complete with sensory-hair cells that transmit the vibrations to the brain. (1, 2)
6. A fly called Goniurellia tridens has “ant-mimicking” wings. Those “ants” on its wings aren’t real ants, but markings. When threatened, the fly flashes its wings to give the appearance of ants walking back and forth. The predator gets confused, and the fly flies off.
Next time you see a fruit fly buzzing around, do not dismiss it. The reason being the fruit fly buzzing around you might be Goniurellia tridens. The Goniurellia tridens is known for the amazing markings on its otherwise transparent wings. Each of its wings has an ant-like insect pattern. The ant markings are perfect with a head, two antennae, six legs, a thorax, and a tapered abdomen.
Anyone looking at the Goniurellia tridens might mistake it for three insects – a fly and two ants – instead of just one. The fly flashes its wings when threatened. It gives the appearance of ants walking back and forth. This confuses the predator and buys the fly enough time to fly off. (1, 2)
7. An Australian moth, Uraba lugens, wears its previous heads as a hat during its caterpillar stage and is known as the “Mad Hatterpillar.”
Hats have been used by people since time unknown, and hence they have a lot of history. In nature, there exists a species of caterpillar who wears hats but in a different style. Instead of using foreign material to make hats, the caterpillar keeps a part of its own head as a hat every time it molts. This caterpillar is known as the “gum-leaf skeletonizer,” and more colloquially as the “Mad Hatterpillar.”
The Mad Hatterpillar grows like all other caterpillars by shedding its hard, outer shell. Each time it sheds the shell, it keeps a part of it that once enclosed its head. So, after each molt, the stack of head shells grows eventually becoming a tall, tapered tower. It often uses its head-shell hat as a defense against predators. (source)
8. Cockroaches’ exoskeletons allow them to withstand weights up to 900 times their body weight. Also, they can compress their bodies between 40 and 60% while traversing through tiny spaces.
The humble cockroach is well known throughout the world for its ability to make almost all human beings scream out in panic and fear. Usually, when we spot one, we either scurry away in disgust or charge towards it with the intention of smashing it. But not all blows are successful. The cockroaches often manage to survive our blow due to their speed and also due to their insanely strong exoskeleton. According to a paper published in the “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” in small crevices, cockroaches can withstand weights up to 300 times their body weight. In normal situations, they can withstand 900 times their own body weight. That’s why cockroaches often run away unharmed even after being hit by an object.
Scientists also found that cockroaches can navigate through extremely small, confined spaces by compressing their body. While traveling through tiny crevices, their flexible body can compress between 40 and 60%. Their strong exoskeleton protects the soft body inside it allowing the cockroaches to emerge from tiny crevices unscathed. (source)
9. The Oriental hornet, Vespa orientalis, turns solar energy into electricity.
Vespa orientalis, or the Oriental hornet, is just like all other hornets except for one special feature. It has the amazing capability to turn solar energy into electricity inside their exoskeleton. The Oriental hornets are most active during the afternoon. They harvest solar energy through their shell. The yellow and brown stripes on their abdomens absorb sun rays. Then, the yellow pigment transforms the solar energy into electricity within the hornet’s body. Scientists are planning to duplicate the hornet’s body structure to harness the power of solar energy.
The oriental hornet not only has the capability to harness solar energy, but it also has a well-developed system to keep its body cool in the sun. Inside the body of the hornet, there exists an interesting heat pump system similar to air conditioners and refrigerators. (1, 2)
10. The veined wing of the clanger cicada can shred bacteria to pieces. Scientists have discovered that their wings have antibacterial “nanopillars” that pull bacterial membranes apart.
Cicadas are locust-like insects. Scientists have discovered that their wings are natural antibiotics. It is one of the first natural surfaces discovered which can kill bacteria solely through its physical structure. The wings of clanger cicada are covered by “nanopillars” that are like blunt spikes. These nanopillars are on a similar size scale to bacteria.
It is often thought that the nanopillars kill the bacteria by puncturing it, but that’s not what happens. When a bacteria comes in contact with the cicada wings, its cellular membrane sticks to the surface of the nanopillars. The membrane further stretches into the crevices between the nanopillars, and this causes great strain. In the end, the membrane ruptures killing the bacteria. The process is similar to stretching an elastic sheet to such an extent that it becomes thinner and eventually begins to tear. (1, 2)
Dung beetle-An insect with unusual diet
Scarabaeus sacer or “sacred scarab” beetle
In the British Museum is a colossal figure of the scarab in granite, probably from Heliopolis.
The scarab also is frequently featured in ancient Egyptian paintings and sculptures and very abundantly in the form of seals and brooches.
Many have inscriptions on them bearing royal names and supplying data about the ancient Egyptian dynasties.
Scarab beetle unusual diet
As an old saying expresses it: “There is no accounting for tastes!”
The beetle has a scoop-shaped head, with the mouth and snout facing downward.
Then it scuttles off to start work.
The beetle’s body is well adapted to its unusual job.
It has six legs, the front pair being short and extremely strong for digging, the middle pair being longer and sturdy, and the hind pair being slightly curved—it is these that grip the dung ball.
Having found a deposit of fresh manure, the beetle sets to work.
10 Insects with Amazing Superpowers
Many people are afraid of insects, probably because they’re creepy, disgusting, freaky, and scary. But despite their weird appearances, many insects possess incredible abilities that will put other animals, and even us humans, to shame. Despite their miniscule sizes and simple brains, these lowly creatures hold the key to solving some of mankind’s greatest problems. Just like…
Cockroaches are perhaps the most disliked creatures in the whole world. Despite that, they’re also the most powerful. Just the mere presence of a single cockroach can make the strongest, most powerful men jump, run, and scream like a girl.
What most people don’t know is that cockroaches have significant value to the medical world. A number of researchers nowadays are studying cockroaches for their potential in curing some of man’s most dreaded diseases. Scientists have discovered that the brains of cockroaches contain “nine antibiotic molecules … that protect them from voracious, lethal bacteria”. So, what does this have to do with modern day medicine? Well, the antibacterial molecules found in the brains of cockroaches are more powerful than the antibiotics we use today. In fact, the antibacterial properties of these disgusting insects are far more effective than some of our modern medicine that they make “prescription drugs look like sugar pills”. Laboratory tests show that the antibacterial molecules found in cockroaches can easily cure MRSA—a bacterial infection more deadly than AIDS—and E. coli.
Aside from their amazing healing power, cockroaches also have the incredible ability to survive nuclear explosions. When Hiroshima and Nagasaki were annihilated by atomic bombs, the only sole survivors were cockroaches. However, it’s important to note that this amazing ability has its limitations. When exposed to 100,000 radon units, cockroaches will die.
Bees are one of the most intelligent insects in the animal world. Not only do they have their own sophisticated means of communication, they also have extraordinary navigation skills despite the fact that their eyesight is limited.
It’s common knowledge that honey bees can communicate with each other. They perform a series of movements called a “waggle dance” to tell each other where food is located or which spot is best for building a new colony. However, what many people don’t know is that the dance is extremely advanced. Honey bees know that the Earth is round, and they take this fact into consideration when they’re learning the location of a certain food source. Aside from that, they can also calculate angles very easily just by reading their waggle dances. For example, if a bee dances from a 12 to 6 o’clock direction, that means food or home is located directly away from the sun. In contrast, a 6 to 12 o’clock movement signifies that bees are to “fly straight forward towards the sun”. A 7 to 1 o’clock movement means that the bees are to fly “to the right of the sun”.
Aside from communicating with each other, honey bees also navigate their surroundings through other means like remembering visual landmarks, taking the sun’s position into consideration, and using the Earth’s electromagnetic field.
Locusts are one of the most efficient pilots in the insect world. These winged creatures, which many people consider to be menaces, can fly great distances without using too much energy. For many years now, scientists have been studying them, and they found out that even though these insects don’t produce great amounts of thrust and lift, they’re capable of sustaining a steady flight rate. Their ability to maintain a steady flight rate doesn’t change even if the winds and temperature become unfavorable. This amazing ability enables them to travel vast distances without wasting much energy.
What’s more amazing is that locusts have the capacity to twist their wings during flights. By doing so, they can preserve and even control the quantity of lift they generate. This, in turn, helps in keeping their flight at a consistent rate. This additional feature enables them to fly up to 80 kilometers in one day without requiring a rest.
Fireflies‘ amazing ability to produce their own light is a wonder in the animal kingdom, and a source of inspiration and joy for many of us. As a child, you’ve probably experienced that magical feeling that comes upon seeing the twilight flickering of these amazing creatures for the first time.
One thing that we, as humans, can learn from fireflies is how to use energy efficiently. Fireflies were designed by Nature to use energy without wasting much of it through heat. The light bulbs we have in our homes only use 10% of their total energy in producing light. The remaining 90% becomes wasted heat energy. On the other hand, the amazing bodies of fireflies were designed to use 100% of the energy to produce light. If fireflies were like light bulbs, in that they use only 10% to make light and the remaining 90% is released as heat energy, they would almost certainly burn to death.
Moreover, just like bees, fireflies can talk with each other too. Fireflies use their ability to produce light to signal each other that they are available for mating. Male fireflies give off distinct flash patterns (each species has their own unique patterns) that signal the female fireflies that they are “single”. On the other hand, if the female fireflies are interested in mating, they too would reply by flickering.
Fleas are harmful not only to your pets, but also to you and your family. Despite that, they have something in them that deserves human admiration: these insects are capable of jumping 150 times their own height! Now, this might not sound really amazing if you view it in insect terms, but if you look at it in a human perspective, then you’ll find that the fleas plaguing your pets are indeed incredible creatures.
Consider this. A certain person, let’s call him Bill, is 5’9” tall. If he were a flea, then he would be able to jump 862.5 feet into the air, which would be defying gravity to the highest extent. Just imagine how different our world would be if we possessed this amazing flea ability. There would be fewer cars, less pollution, less expenses, etc. So, the next time you crush a flea, think of what it can do.
5. Dung Beetles
There are two reasons why dung beetles are included in this list: poop and astronomy. This might surprise you, but these two seemingly-unrelated subjects have been connected by these incredible creatures.
Dung beetles live a very disgusting lifestyle. They collect animal wastes, roll it up into a ball, and use it for several purposes. They can use the ball as their homes, lay their eggs on it, or if they’re hungry, snack on it. Now, what’s amazing is that dung beetles have the incredible ability to roll their “dung balls” in a straight line even at night! Intrigued by this fascinating ability, Marie Dacke, a biologist from Lund University in Sweden, conducted an experiment. She placed the dung beetles in a planetarium, and watched as the insects were able to successfully roll their dung ball in a straight line by using the “entire starry sky”.
To make the experiment more interesting, Dacke decided to show only the Milky Way Galaxy. Surprisingly, the dung beetles were still capable of rolling their precious dung balls in a straight line. The conclusion: dung beetles are great recyclers and incredible astronomers.
We humans have the amazing ability of selective attention. Right now, you’re using this power to eliminate various distractions and focus on reading and understanding this list. For many years, scientists have believed that only primates possess this amazing ability. However, a new research shows that a specific winged creature in the insect world is also capable of selective attention—dragonflies.
Dragonflies have very small brains and yet, when hunting for food, they rely on selective attention. If a dragonfly sees a swarm of tiny insects, it’s going to lock its attention on one prey alone. Through selective attention, it eliminates other potential prey within the swarm and focuses solely on its target. Dragonflies are very accurate when it comes to catching their prey. Their success rate is very high – 97 percent!
Ants have the amazing ability of always finding their way back home even if they’ve wandered far away in search for food. Scientists have long known that ants employ various visual cues to remind them of where their colony is. However, in some places, like deserts, where there are no distinct landmarks, how do ants manage to find their way back home? This is the same question that Dr. Markus Knaden, Dr. Kathrin Steck, and Prof. Bill Hanson of the Max-Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology in Germany tried to answer with a very simple experiment.
For their experiment, the scientists used Tunisian desert ants. They placed four different odors around the entrance of the ants’ nest, and made sure that the entrance was barely visible. After letting the ants associate the odors with their nest, they were then removed and then placed in a different location, one with no nest and no entrance. Only the four odors used previously in the first location were present.
Surprisingly, the ants went to the area where the odors were located (the same spot where the nest entrance should have been)! This experiment proved that ants can smell in stereo, which means that they can sense two different odors at the same time from two unique directions. Moreover, it also proved that in places, like deserts, ants don’t rely on visual cues. They create an “odor map” of their environment by relying on their “stereo sense of smell”. As long as the odor is there, they will always find their way back home.
2. Voodoo Wasps
Voodoo wasps are called such because of their “magical” ability to turn their prey or enemies into “zombies”. This might sound like something you’d see in a sci-fi flick, but scientists have proven that voodoo wasps are indeed capable of inducing other insects into a zombie-like state. What’s more eerie is that, once the insects become zombies, voodoo wasps can control them.
Voodoo wasps lay their eggs inside the bodies of young geometrid caterpillars. The larvae inside the caterpillars survive by feeding on the bodily fluids of their host. Once the larvae achieve full development, they find their way out of the caterpillar’s body by eating its skin. Then, they create a cocoon and attach themselves into a leaf or a branch. Here comes the slightly terrifying, yet equally fascinating part. The host the caterpillar doesn’t leave the cocoon — instead of doing its usual business, the caterpillar acts as the cocoon’s bodyguard, protecting it from various predators.
Researchers conducted an experiment which showed that infected caterpillars do become the “zombie bodyguards” of voodoo wasps by introducing stinkbugs. Caterpillars which were not infected didn’t do anything to stop the stinkbug from going near the cocoon. On the other hand, infected caterpillars protected the cocoon by knocking the bug off the branch. Scientists don’t know why the infected caterpillars protect the cocoon. However, they did find out that this incredible ability of voodoo wasps is crucial for their survival.
1. Bombardier Beetle
When it comes to defensive strategies in the insect world, nothing beats the Bombardier beetle. This creature has the incredible ability to fire a hot mixture of chemical solution strong enough to injure its enemies. The toxic solution sprayed by the beetle can reach an impressive temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, or 100 degrees Celsius.
But what’s even more fascinating is the intricate design of the Bombardier beetle’s body. You see, the two chemicals, hydrogen peroxide and hydroquinone, which this insect uses to injure its enemies are dangerous and fatal. If not stored and combined properly, these chemicals would cause the Bombardier beetle to explode! Were it not for their well-designed bodies, Bombardier beetles would have never existed. At the end of this insect’s abdomen are two glands. These two glands separate the hydrogen peroxide from the hydroquinone. If the Bombardier beetle feels threatened, its sphincter muscles will squeeze the right amount of chemicals into a certain body part where they are mixed together with other toxic substances. The result is a hot mixture of toxic chemicals capable of hurting the Bombardier beetle’s enemies.