Bombardier Beetle Click to enlarge image
Bombardier Beetle, Pheropsophus verticalis Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    verticalis
    Genus
    Pheropsophus
    Subfamily
    Brachininae
    Family
    Carabidae
    Super Family
    Caraboidea
    Suborder
    Adephaga
    Order
    Coleoptera
    Class
    Insecta
    Subphylum
    Uniramia
    Phylum
    Arthopoda
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Number of Species
    2,500
  • Size Range
    1.2 cm - 1.8 cm

Introduction

The Bombardier Beetle belongs to the ground beetle family (Carabidae), of which there are about 2,500 species in Australia.

Habitat

The Bombardier Beetle lives on undisturbed riverbanks and floodplains.

Distribution

The Bombardier Beetle is found in eastern Australia.

Feeding and diet

Most Bombardier Beetles are carnivorous and hunt on the ground or in trees. The larvae feed on other insects.

Other behaviours and adaptations

When threatened, the Bombardier Beetle uses a special gland at its rear end to mix together two chemicals, resulting in an explosion with a loud popping noise. The noise alone is usually enough to startle a would-be predator and, if not, the accompanying sizzle of steam and spray of chemicals from the beetle's behind does the trick! The beetle produces temperatures of over 100 oC in the gland, which acts as a specialised, reinforced explosion chamber. Up to 80 explosions may be produced over a four-minute period.


Bombardier Beetle
Bombardier Beetle, Pheropsophus verticalis Image: Andrew Donnelly
© Australian Museum