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Camphor beetle

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16488.  Wed Mar 23, 2005 12:00 pm Reply with quote

The camphor beetle (Stenus sp.) skates on the water's surface, spreading its legs out wide and using the water's surface tension to prevent it submerging. Lots of beetles do this.

The camphor beetle has a neat trick to avoid predators, however: it has a set of chemical jet-propelled rocket skis. When alarmed, it releases camphor oil from its rear end which destroys the water's surface tension behind it. The water ripples mightily, and the beetle is thrown forward at some speed on its legs (it's only a few millimetres long, but can easily make 2mph). It steers by flexing its abdomen, a bit like James Bond might.

Source: and an Attenborough documentary.

Surely not related to anything else, but QI anyway...

96164.  Sun Sep 24, 2006 5:17 pm Reply with quote

yes very Qi


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