PHOENIX — While Arizona is home to an impressive number of venomous creatures, one insect uses a different kind of chemical warfare. The Fiery Searcher ground beetle is one bug that looks a lot better than it smells.
Widespread but uncommon, the beetle is most known for its striking coloration. Shiny hues of green and blue make this beetle stand out.
But with natural predators like foxes, toads, and birds, that impressive coloration needs something to back it up. That's where the cheese smell comes in.
When threatened, the Fiery Searcher beetle can release a foul-smelling oil that leaves a nasty odor on contact, researchers with the University of Florida said.
Some people who have come into contact with the stuff say it smells like rancid milk or even pungent cheese.
Up close with the Fiery Searcher beetle
In addition to the unpleasant odor, the Fiery Searcher beetle can also deliver a painful pinch with its mandibles.
That's because this beetle is a predator, and prefers to chow down on caterpillars. They often go after species of caterpillars that would otherwise destroy backyard gardens.
So if you see one of these beautiful bugs in your backyard, let it go on its way. It's a friend to your plants and isn't something you want to get on your hands.
Because even if the jury's out on what kind of cheese it smells like, everyone can agree that it reeks.
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