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The Elusive “Scorpion Beetle” – The Only Known Insect Capable of Inoculating Toxins Through Its Antennae

Beetles are generally regarded as harmless to humans. Out of the over 350,000 documented species of beetle, only three are actually known to bite people, and only if they feel threatened. However, there is another species that few sources mention. Onychocerus albitarsis, aka Scorpion Beetle, is the only known insect capable of stinging humans with its antennae and delivering a painful toxin.

First described in 1859 by famous English entomologist Francis Polkinghorne Pascoe, the scorpion beetle is considered by many experts a fascinating case of convergent evolution. While all other known insects deliver venom or toxins by biting with fangs or stinging with a structure used exclusively for this purpose, e.g. a bee’s stinger, the scorpion beetle does it through its two long antennae, which research has shown have evolved to closely resemble a scorpion’s segmented tail.

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