Strange Ground Dweller
This spring I noticed pencil-sized holes in the hard-packed soil in our back-yard (compaction caused by construction a couple of years ago). I never saw any animal activity associated with the holes until just the past couple of weeks. I was out walking our puppy one evening and I noticed something quickly retreat down into one of these hole from just inside the entrance. It had been sitting close to the opening, but not quite at the top. I began to notice more and more of these, and realized that pretty much all of the dozens and dozens of these holes around the yard, they must all have been active. While walking the puppy just before bedtime, and carrying a flashlight, I discovered that I could "blind" the animal by shining the light directly at it. This allowed me to approach within a couple of feet of the hole to observe the animal. But even that close I really couldn’t tell what I was seeing. It looked like some kind of strange spider to me. I determined to get a photo of one of the beasties. So, I set up a camera with a macro lens and waited. Attached is the best shot I could grab of the critter in its burrow. I also took a shovel and waited at one of the burrows until it’s occupant appeared. Then I quickly jabbed the shovel at about a 30 degree angle into the soil a few inches from the hole, hoping to get the shovel in underneath the bug. I did, although I am not sure that the bug is intact– in the attached photo of the bug out of its lair, I think the dirt covered rear is the result of cutting it in half. So, any help you can give me in identifying this creature would be much appreciated.
Thank you for your excellent letter and wonderful images. This is a Tiger Beetle Larva, Family Cicindelidae. The larva dig burrows and sieze prey that wanders by. They anchor themselves in the hole with hooks on the fifth abdominal segment.