Scott Hollifield: Science says don't put that in your mouth

Kids, do not eat bombardier beetles or two-day old snow.

This is a non court-mandated public service announcement from me, the second most popular columnist at this award-winning publication and recently named People Magazine’s third Hunkiest Male Newspaper Icon, just behind Rex Morgan, M.D. and Snuffy Smith.

If you are in fact a young person and your grandma gave you this newspaper column to read, it means she is worried about you, considering all the social media shenanigans going these days like the Tide Pod Challenge, where young folks like yourself believe it’s “cool” or “hip” or “the bee’s knees” to document yourselves chomping down on colorful detergent capsules and then share that idiotic stunt with the world.

It’s not cool. It’s dangerous and, believe me, they taste awful.

But let’s get back to bombardier beetles and two-day old snow, shall we?

Scientists, in their never-ending quest to document what we should not put in our mouths, have determined that bombardier beetles and two-day old snow are on that list.

According to a study outlined in the Feb. 7 edition of the journal Biology Letters, scientists in Japan fed bombardier beetles to toads to see what would happen. Apparently, these scientists were bored one day and had easy access to bombardier beetles and toads.

“There are nearly 650 known species of bombardier beetles, all of which produce noxious chemicals in their guts,” reads a Gizmodo article by George Dvorsky. “When threatened, they mix these chemicals together and eject a hot spray from the tips of their abdomens (that is, their behinds) with tremendous force.”

In the study’s abstract, scientists noted “our experiment showed that (the swallowed beetles) ejected hot chemicals inside the toads, thereby forcing the toads to vomit. Large beetles escaped more frequently than small beetles, and small toads vomited the beetles more frequently than large toads.”

One beetle walked away seemingly unscathed after 44 minutes inside a toad’s belly, scientists said, which may be a record if anyone kept records on how long a beetle can survive in a toad’s belly (I’m looking at you, Guinness.)

Kids, the big lesson here is, don’t eat bombardier beetles. They are scientifically worse than Tide Pods.

But, I can hear you whippersnappers now. “Yeah, daddy-o, bombardier beetles may be bad, but I can eat all the delicious two-day old snow I can shovel into my mouth, right?”


According to a Feb. 8 report from The Associated Press, the source I turn to for stories about the health hazards of ingesting filthy substances, eating the white stuff (or perhaps off-white) after two days is a bad idea.

Researchers at a Romanian university determined this mind-blowing fact, presumably because they had no toads or beetles to experiment on.

“Very fresh snow has very little bacteria," Istvan Mathe, a professor at the Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania, told AP. "After two days, however, there are dozens of bacteria."

Yes, something lying outside for two days has attracted bacteria. Good job, Romanian scientists, on your wise use of government grant money.

So, kids, to close this non court-mandated public service announcement from the third most popular columnist in this award-winning publication (I fell once notch while writing this column), let’s recap: Don’t eat Tide Pods, don’t swallow beetles that spew boiling toxins from their backsides and lay off the two-day old snow.

Grandma wants to spend less time worrying about you and more time reading fascinating stuff like this in the paper or maybe staring longingly at Rex Morgan, M.D.

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