The Diabolical Beetle

November 13, 2020
Diabolical Beetle
Public domain image via iNaturalist

What does it take to understand how an insect works? Well, you have to capture an insect, for one. While it might be easy to find insects around where we live, scientists can have a tough job finding and analyzing insects that are, well, hard to pin down. One such insect is the diabolical ironclad beetle, or if we want to get fancy with its scientific name, Phloeodes diabolicus. When biologists manage to locate the insect in the southwestern region of the United States, they can hardly ‘pin it down.’ The scientists found that the black, bumpy shell could actually break a pin or indeed any sharp object. It could even withstand a car running over it. Scientists estimate it can take up to 39,000 times its weight without getting crushed! How does the diabolical ironclad beetle manage to have a shell this thick? The simple answer? Nature. The insect’s structure, developed over years of natural selection, ensures that the insect doesn’t get crushed by a heavy object. Scientists have determined that the structure, not the material, make it super strong. What could this mean for scientists? If they can find out how to replicate the structure of this beetle’s shell, it could inspire the design of aircrafts, sports equipment, and more!