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Updated 2:00 PM EDT, Wed, May 20, 2020

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Amazing Bombardier Beetle Shoots Toxic Bullets from its Butt

The explosive mechanism used by the beetle generates a spray that's much hotter than that of other insects that use the liquid, and propels the jet five times faster.

(Photo : Charles Hedgcock/MIT) The explosive mechanism used by the beetle generates a spray that's much hotter than that of other insects that use the liquid, and propels the jet five times faster.

Many insects possess different kinds of attack or defense mechanisms to protect themselves from predators however, the Bombardier beetles are apparently famous in the world for not just a deadly sting but these creatures can spray some serious toxic chemicals which is also boiling hot with extreme precision.

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Scientists and biologists have known about the spray attack of the beetle but upon closer observation, this spray is apparently not a stream or jet of liquid but of extremely hot bullets ejected so fast, about 500 every second where scientists are now studying how the beetle controls and creates these toxic bullets.

In this new study, it is revealed that the beetle's abdomen possesses separate vessels where the reactive elements are contained. When these tiny valves open, a special combustion chamber works by filling up with both chemicals.

From this point on, this chemical reaction can then explode towards the prey or attackers. However, it is still a mystery how this machine gun precision is created.

To learn more about this mechanism, researchers from the University of Arizona namely Wendy Moore and Eric Arndt including MIT's Christin Ortiz used a special X-ray machine and trained it to target the reactive chambers of hundreds of beetles and provoked them into spraying one by one.

The footage reveals the internal processes that causes this rapid fire where this pressure is created from the explosive mixture that stretches a thin area of the chamber wall and closing the valve. This amount of pressure is created and goes down as the spray is ejected where the valves open up once more. This priniciple can also be observed in combustion chambers found in automobile engines.

Why do the beetles use this technique? Moore believes that this pulse delievery of the spray enables the tiny beetles to produce a large amount of defensive spray where they can aim with precision with a huge amount of force and speed.

This study is published the journal Science. 

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