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This Beetle's Penis Is Longer Than Its Body and It's Teaching Scientists Some Valuable Lessons

Catheters cause thousands of deadly infections a year — for an updated design, scientists look to beetle penises.

The complicated process of catheterizing — inserting a thin, flexible tube into a medical patient for diagnostic or therapeutic purposes — may soon be made easier thanks to an unexpected model: the beetle penis.

The sexual organ of the thistle tortoise beetle (Cassida rubiginosa), a Eurasian-native green leaf beetle originally introduced to New Zealand to control invasive Canada thistle, has caught the attention of scientists for its unusual shape and structure. Though the female beetle’s sexual organ is unusually complicated — both long and spiral in shape — damage to and breakage of the male’s appendage is exceedingly rare.

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