I first heard about the bombardier beetle when I was around 12 years old. A documentary about some amazing animals and their unique designs were being shown during a Sunday-night lecture and I’ve not forgotten about this little creature since to be honest, insects aren’t my favourite things!

The bombardier beetle looks very much like any other beetle that you might see; they are small, shiny, found in all the continents (except Asia and Antartica) and there are approximately 2,500 species present worldwide. However, while these beetles may look undistinguishable from any other beetle at first glance, they are absolutely amazing because of a very special defence-mechanism that they possess.

The beetle uses cells in its body to produce toxic chemicals (hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide for the scientifically-inquisitive) which are collected and stored in a reservoir. When feeling threatened, this reservoir is released into a second chamber, lined with different chemicals, where these toxic chemicals begin to react, resulting in a build-up of heat and gas. The pressure of these gases causes the chemicals to be expelled from the beetle’s body through openings at the tip of the abdomen.

This might sound somewhat scientific and bor­ing, but basically, the beetle causes an explosion! The liquid produced by the beetle is released with a loud bang, at 100°C, and burns any predator that it comes in contact with. This mechanism works to scare away any attackers by the combination of noise and corrosive liquids which can be fired in one single pulse or multiple short bursts and, just in case you didn’t think that this was amazing enough, the beetle’s abdominal tip can be rotated by 270° so that it can more easily fire at predators!

It’s the small things like these animals that can make us really appreciate the wonder of God’s crea­tion. The defence mechanism of this little beetle is amazing and it could quite easily be more harmful than helpful if it had been designed any differently; the beetle could literally blow itself up if it didn’t have two chambers in which to produce necessary chemicals; some species of beetles cannot release the liquid in a single pulse as this risks having themselves caught in the explosion; the rotating abdominal tip allows the beetle to aim in most directions, thereby increasing the efficiency of this defence mechanism.

We might not see something as complex as a bombardier beetle this week, but we can very easily see the beauty of God’s creation, even when we are doing something as simple as taking a walk outside and briefly looking at the different types of flowers, trees, grass, clouds and animals around us.

Our God is good. He knows all the stars. He has great power and infinite wisdom. He makes the clouds, rain, grass, snow, ice and wind . Let us praise Him! (Psalm 147)