Dear Bugman,
I just moved to Houston, Texas recently and was very curious about the pencil sized holes in the flat hard part of my new yard. I started sticking twigs in these holes out of curiosity and one day something pushed the twig back out! Turns out, these creepy little things would actually grab the sticks and play tug-of-war with me untill I was able to take a picture of it’s head. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t come all the way out so I couldn’t identify it. Today I was digging holes for a new path and found one. Please help me figure out what it is. It’s about an inch long. I’ve also sent you a picture of a stuffed animal version of this hideous creature for your amusement. Enjoy!

Hi Jaime,
This is a predatory Tiger Beetle Larva. The larvae of Tiger Beetles live underground in a hole, and the flat head covers the head. The larva uses its strong mandibles to capture passing prey. While preparing our response, we noticed you also have your photos posted to that most excellent resource, BugGuide.

One Response to Tiger Beetle Larva

  1. TanukiBlue says:

    One of my childhood pastimes was trying to coax these critters out of their holes with grass stems. I got very good at catching them — and yes, at returning them to their homes, as the catching was the fun bit (at least for me; I suspect they didn’t much like being dragged out of their burrows). I didn’t learn until much later that they grow up to become one of my favorite beetles!

    The spiny hump near the tail apparently is very, VERY sensitive. They don’t like being touched there when out of the burrow; any contact with the hump prompts the larva to lash backwards, trying to bite whatever did the touching.

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