Streaked bombardier beetle

The Streaked bombardier beetle (Brachinus sclopeta) is so rare in the UK that it was only recently accepted as native and listed as a Biodiversity Action Plan species, meaning it requires conservation.

Fast Facts

Latin name: Brachinus sclopeta

Notable feature: Armed with a powerful spray to deter and kill predators

Rarity in the UK: Rare / Common

Where in the UK: East London, Margate

It is one of only two bombardier species found in the UK, the other being the similar looking Common Bombardier (Brachinus crepitans) which despite its name is also rare. Like all of the 250 species of bombardier beetles globally, the Streaked bombardiers possess a remarkable but effective defence mechanism. It can spray a boiling, noxious chemical mixture of hydroquinones and hydrogen peroxide from the tip of its flexible abdomen, which it can aim skilfully, producing an audible explosive ‘pfut’ sound! This boiling spray has the potential to kill other insects and strongly deter larger predators, as well as curious humans!

The Common and Streaked bombardier beetles have a metallic blue – green wing case (elytra) with a narrow orange-red head and back (thorax), but the Streaked bombardier has a distinctive red dash along its back and is up to 7.5mm long.