False Bombardier Beetle

Subject: Found this bug, what is it?
Location: Ohio
April 9, 2016 9:43 pm
Hello! I woke up one night to find this bug crawling on me! It scared the crap out of me cause my daughter was in bed with me and I was afraid of it hurting her. I threw the bug off of me and just tried to forget about it. The next day I found it crawling in my bathtub. I live in Chillicothe OH and have never seen a big like this before. I tried to look it up and found nothing. Help me out and let me know if it’s dangerous or anything. Thank you 🙂
Signature: Ashley

False Bombardier Beetle
False Bombardier Beetle

Dear Ashley,
This is a False Bombardier Beetle in the genus
Galerita, and like many other Ground Beetles, they are predators with strong mandibles that may deliver a pinching, but not dangerous, bite if carelessly handled.  BugGuide does caution:  “These beetles have chemical defenses” and by following the link provided on BugGuide, we found the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America PNAS site which has a lengthy paper beginning with “The carabid beetle Galerita lecontei has a pair of abdominal defensive glands that secrete a mixture of formic acid, acetic acid, and lipophilic components (long-chain hydrocarbons and esters). Formic acid, at the concentration of 80%, is the principal constituent. The beetle ejects the secretion as a spray, which it aims accurately toward parts of the body subjected to assault. ”  While coming into contact with the spray may cause local irritation, no lasting ill effects are expected for either persons or pets.  The chemical defense is a deterrent that might help prevent the False Bombardier Beetle from being eaten as the disagreeable taste will cause a predator to spit out the beetle.

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