Cow Path Tiger Beetle
Location: Central MN
April 6, 2012 8:03 am
I found this colorful little monster on the second of April. But what a terrible name for him: Cow Path Tiger Beetle (cicindela purpurea). That’s what my book calls him, anyway.
Cheers. I look at your site everyday. It’s a relief to have some insects out and about again here in the north. But scary early!
Signature: Don J. Dinndorf
Thanks so much for the compliment. Unlike you, we do not find the common name Cow Path Tiger Beetle to be “terrible”, though we do find it unusual. Common names do create the possibility of confusion since many species have multiple common names, each highly localized, and species that cross international boundaries with language changes face even more confusion. That is the reason the scientific community settled upon the binomial naming system that avoids common names. Should you find it troublesome to refer to this lovely Tiger Beetle by the name Cow Path Tiger Beetle, you can always use the name favored on BugGuide, which is Purple Tiger Beetle, though BugGuide does recognize the other common name as well. BugGuide also notes: “Uncommon through much of its range; a beautiful species” and that it prefers “Upland habitats with shale soils. Found in forest clearings, often along dirt paths through grassy areas.” We suspect the common name Cow Path Tiger Beetle refers to sightings occurring along paths traveled by cattle to reach high altitude pastures with better grazing.