Japan is home to a number of terrifying insects, such as the mukade, a giant venmous centipede with a sting that can be fatal to children and the elderly, or the suzumebachi (Asian Giant Hornet), which actually kills a handful of people every year.
But perhaps no insect in Japan is feared more than the kamemushi, commonly referred to in English as the stinkbug. While you can easily drop centipedes and hornets with a good dose of pesticide or a well-timed smack of the shoe, it is in death that kamemushi is feared the most.
You see, when you kill a stinkbug, it stinks. It stinks a lot, which is why most Japanese people gently pick them up with a tissue and throw them outside or roll them up in tape so they can’t move and dispose of them in the trash.
Recently, a team of amateur Japanese “researchers” decided to make that unholy stink of the stinkbug the subject of their latest study, which asks the question: “Can kamemushi be knocked unconscious by the smell of their own fart?
Now technically, as a video posted to YouTube documenting the study proceeds to explain, the kamemushi’s odor isn’t coming from their bowels but actually from a liquid secreted from glands located on their thorax. This liquid is used to deter predators and, as many people know too well, is sometimes also released when the kamemushi is fumbled around or squished.
The research team posits that this odor can also be harmful to the kamemushi itself, and that when a large number of the insects are crammed into a small container and made to release the odor simultaneously, they will pass out.
The video begins by showing the team prepare for the experiment by setting up two plastic “pass out” chambers, one equipped with a Plasmacluster air purifier (left) and the other without (right).
The team then transfers a total of 80 kamemushi into each chamber, seals the lid with tape and starts the timer.
The video skips ahead to 19 minutes later and it seems that even the air purifier provided little respite for the kamemushi as the bases of both chambers were covered with fallen insects struggling to remain conscious among a thick fog of their own stench.
The video wraps up with the succinct conclusion: “The fart of kamemushi is incredible!”
Perhaps or more fitting conclusion would be: “Don’t trust Plasmacluster air purifiers.”
So did the kamemushi really pass out from their own odor?
One Japanese site offers the following explanation:
Kamemushi emit a foul odor to protect themselves from predators. The source of this odor is an oily liquid that is secreted from glands between the kamemushi’s legs. This liquid contains a toxic component known as aldehyde that causes predators to faint. If a kamemushi is left in a small container over a period of time, that same poison will spread through its own body, paralyzing its functions and causing it to lose consciousness. Though the kamemushi should return to normal if the lid is opened soon after, it will die if the lid is left on. Furthermore, if multiple kamemushi are placed in a small container, the odor emitted by a single kamemushi will act as a signal warning that a predator is near, prompting the other kamemushi to release their own odor. As a result, all of the kamemushi in the container will lose consciousness.
And there you have it. They say that everyone likes their own brand, but it looks like the kamemushi’s toxic funk is a threat to even itself.
Finally, for those of you who have never actually encountered a stinkbug, we’d like you to take a moment to watch the following footage to get an idea of how foul the smell released by kamemushi is: