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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Aug 17;96(17):9705-9.

Spray aiming in the bombardier beetle: photographic evidence.

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  • 1Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


Bombardier beetles, when physically assaulted, eject a hot quinonoid spray from the tip of the abdomen. Photographic evidence is presented demonstrating that the African bombardier beetle, Stenaptinus insignis, can aim its spray in virtually any direction. It can target its individual legs, and even the individual segments of its legs. Moreover, in aiming at a leg, it takes into account the postural orientation of that leg. The beetle is able even to target sites on its back. It is postulated that the ability to aim helps the beetle mainly in defense against ants.

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