Who wins when a frog meets a bombardier beetle? And other Bioblitz discoveries

By Deborah Clark, IAE Board of Directors

 June 2019

Before I tell the story of the frog and the bombardier beetle, I want to share my mini-adventure at the 2019 Corvallis BioBlitz. What is a BioBlitz, you might ask? It is a celebration of biodiversity -- a fun, family-friendly challenge to find and record as many species as possible in a local area in 24 hours. BioBlitz events give people an opportunity to connect with nature, while at the same time provide actual data to scientists. The third annual Corvallis BioBlitz was held on May 19 at Peavy Arboretum, and was hosted the Forest Biodiversity Research Network and Oregon State University.

Volunteers are available to help the participants identify all the species they find using field guides and keys. If the species cannot be identified, a photo is taken with a smart phone and uploaded to iNaturalist, a free app. The species is then identified by one of hundreds of naturalists around the world. When I was in Africa, I uploaded photos of butterflies, flowers, even a wasp dragging a dead spider across my path. And, miraculously, iNaturalist identified everything I photographed.  Pretty amazing, and a wonderful tool!

A Corvallis Bioblitz participant releases a tagged bird

Examining a slug

Learning to use field guides with Rolando Beorchia, IAE Restoration Technician

The author using iNaturalist

All during the BioBlitz, everyone was busy searching for wildflowers, trees, fungi, and all sorts of critters – butterflies, amphibians, reptiles, birds. One volunteer asked if I wanted to see a bombardier beetle. He held the small dark beetle gently in his hand and told me to watch carefully as he stroked the beetle’s abdomen. Suddenly the beetle ejected a hot noxious spray with a popping sound! When disturbed, the beetle empties chemical “A” into an empty internal chamber and then empties chemical “B” into the same chamber. The mixture gets really hot (about 100C), and produces a gas that causes the spray, which can kill a predator!

So now the story of the frog and the bombardier beetle: after the BioBlitz, I watched a YouTube video of a frog sitting beside a bombardier beetle. Suddenly the beetle was gone. The frog had whipped out his sticky tongue and gulped the beetle down. The frog sat there for awhile and at first nothing happened. However, in a bit, the frog began to make gulping, gagging movements.Then suddenly the frog vomited and out came this gooey-slimy-yucky mass. As I watched, this yucky mass started moving; then it started walking away from the frog. It was the bombardier beetle!

The diversity of life is fascinating! For 20 years, IAE has been a leader in the stewardship of biodiversity. Their passion is evident in all their efforts -- scientific research, environmental education, and on the ground native habitat restoration.

The third annual 2019 Corvallis BioBlitz at Peavey Arboretum was sponsored by The Forest Biodiversity Research Network and Oregon State University.

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