The Indestructible Super Bug

When most people see a creepy crawly bug scuttling towards them, they usually slap it with a shoe and get on with their life. But that won’t work with this beetle.


Science Alert

The diabolical ironclad beetle.

Madeeha Akhtar, Columnist

Scientists have recently discovered the diabolical ironclad beetle. It may not look pretty, but this bug makes up for it with its strength. 

The diabolical ironclad beetle has been known to survive getting run over by a car. 

According to Nature, it has a jigsaw-like mechanism in its exoskeleton that enables it to tolerate forces up to 39,000 times its own body weight. If you want to know how that feels like, imagine 39,000 clones of yourself, piled on top of you. Where most beetles can withstand up to 68 newtons, the ironclad beetle can withstand 149 newtons. This exoskeleton is one of the strongest materials in the world. The diabolical ironclad beetle has replaced the cockroach as the insect of indestructibility. 

“The ironclad is a terrestrial beetle, so it’s not lightweight and fast but built more like a little tank,” said materials scientist David Kisailus of the University of California Irvine. Even though it can’t fly, like most beetles, the ironclad beetle is a survivor. 

According to Science Alert, when this bug gets attacked, it just plays dead, lets its predator try to chew it, and waits for it to give up. The bug doesn’t even get injured during this process.

Scientists are amazed by the ironclad beetle’s durability, and collected them to run experiments. All the power was in the elytra. Elytra is a strong wing cover that exists on flying beetles. Since the ironclad beetle doesn’t fly, its elytra fused together along a suture line and hardened into a tough body armor. 

According to Purdue University, the suture acts like a jigsaw puzzle and connects the exoskeleton pieces. This way, when pressure is applied to the beetle, the combination of the features allow the energy to dissipate and spread evenly across the beetle’s exoskeleton.

This discovery could lead the way to more durable engineering. According to Microsoft News, turbines in the aerospace industry are based on this beetle’s ability to hold heavy weight without damaging it’s internal organs. Po-Yu Chen, in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Taiwan’s National Tsing Hua University, said that the diabolical ironclad beetle might inspire new designs for compressible robots or for armored vehicles.  The ironclad beetle is giving endless engineering possibilities for the future.