Tiger Beetle Life Cycle: A Fascinating Journey in Nature

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Tiger beetles are fascinating insects known for their incredible speed and agility as predators. In this article, you’ll learn about the intriguing life cycle of the tiger beetle, from egg to adult. With their unique adaptations that aid in hunting, these beetles have managed to thrive in a wide range of habitats around the world.

As you delve into the world of tiger beetles, you’ll discover how their life cycle involves a series of stages, from eggs buried in the soil to voracious larvae waiting to ambush passing prey. Each stage plays a pivotal role in the survival and development of these remarkable insects. You’ll also uncover the various challenges they face throughout their lives, as well as the role they play in the ecosystem.

By learning about the life cycle of the tiger beetle, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for these incredible insects and their place in the natural world. As you explore their journey from egg to adult, you may be surprised at just how complex and fascinating the lives of these seemingly small creatures can be.

Physical Attributes

Size and Shape

Tiger beetles belong to the Cicindelinae subfamily of the ground beetle family Carabidae, and their size and shape can vary depending on the species. They generally have an elongated, flattened body structure. They are fast runners and agile predators, due to their long, thin legs which allow them to move quickly on the ground.

Color and Patterns

Tiger beetles exhibit a wide range of color variations and patterns, including:

  • Metallic green, purple, blue, or brown

  • Bright and iridescent hues

  • Dull or matte finishes

  • Bands, spots, and other markings

The colors and patterns among tiger beetles can help in camouflage, thermoregulation, or even mate signaling, depending on the specific species.

Distinct Features

Some of the most notable features of tiger beetles include:

  • Head: They have a large, round head, equipped with a pair of long mandibles, perfect for capturing and handling their prey.

  • Antennae: Tiger beetles possess fairly long antennae, which serve as an important sensory tool for detecting food, mates, and other stimuli.

  • Thorax and abdomen: The thorax is narrower compared to the abdomen and houses the sturdy legs and wings.

  • Elytra: The elytra (wing coverings) are hardened, often with markings or spots that add to their distinctive appearance.

Tiger beetles have fascinating physical attributes that contribute greatly to their survival in various environments. While observing their size, color patterns, and distinct features, you’ll find that these stunning insects are truly built for predation and adaptability.

Life Cycle

Egg Stage

During the egg stage, female tiger beetles lay their eggs in the soil. They usually lay them singly in a burrow made by their ovipositor, which is an egg-laying tube at the end of the abdomen1. After the eggs are laid, they develop and hatch in the burrows.

Larval Stage

The larval stage of tiger beetles consists of three instars2. Tiger beetle larvae are predatory and live within burrows dug in the soil[^5^]. They have a unique appearance, with a large, flattened head and curved, hinged mandibles. Here’s how they behave in their environment:

  • Larvae wait near the top of their burrows for prey to approach
  • When prey comes close enough, they quickly snatch it with their mandibles3

While in the burrows, larvae experience some threats like hister beetles, birds, and ants1. Additionally, they get parasitized by bombyliids (bee flies) and several wasps1.

Pupa Stage

After completing their larval development, tiger beetles enter their pupa stage. During this period, they remain inside the burrows, where they transform into their adult form[^5^].

Adult Stage

Adult tiger beetles are renowned for their speed and agility. They are known as some of the fastest insects in the world. As predators, they use their powerful jaws to catch and eat their prey4.

When it comes to mating, after the adult tiger beetles find a partner, they perform the following actions:

  • The male clings to the female’s back during mating2
  • After mating, the female digs a hole in the ground and lays an egg into it2

In the end, the life cycle of the tiger beetle continues as the adult lays its eggs in the soil, allowing a new generation to begin.

Habitat and Distribution

Geographical Range

Tiger beetles can be found in various regions across the world. They are known to inhabit every continent except Antarctica. For example, the Miami Tiger Beetle is native to Florida in the United States.

Habitat Types

Tiger beetles occupy diverse habitats based on their species. They thrive in areas with particular soil types, land formations, and vegetation.

  • Soil: You’ll often find tiger beetles in areas with sandy or clayey soil. Some species, like the Carolina Tiger Beetle, prefer sandy environments.

  • Land formations: These beetles are commonly found in sand dunes, clay banks, and along lakeshores. They take advantage of open spaces with sparse vegetation where they can quickly run and catch their prey.

  • Vegetation and ecosystem: The presence of tiger beetles often indicates a healthy ecosystem. They typically live near water sources and require specific plant species for cover and egg-laying.

In summary, tiger beetles have a vast geographical range and diverse habitat preferences. Their presence in various ecosystems is indicative of their adaptability to different environments, making them efficient predators and an essential part of biological control strategies.

Diet and Predatory Behavior

Feeding Habits

Tiger beetles are known to be predatory insects, as both their adult and larval stages feed on other insects. Their diet mainly consists of insects like ants, spiders, and other small organisms. Some examples of their prey are:

  • Ants
  • Spiders
  • Small insects

Hunting Techniques

These beetles are fast runners, and they rely on their speed and powerful jaws to hunt down their prey. However, they often run so fast that their eyes can’t process the changing images quickly enough, causing them to be momentarily blind. When this happens, they need to stop and relocate their prey before resuming the chase.

Defense Mechanisms

Tiger beetles have various ways to defend themselves against predators like birds, ants, and wasps. Their larvae have hooks on their abdomen, which they use to anchor themselves to the burrow walls as they subdue large prey. Adult tiger beetles can deliver painful bites with their sickle-like mandibles, making them difficult for predators to handle.

Conservation and Threats

Tiger beetles face various threats that could affect their survival, and understanding these challenges is essential for their conservation.

Habitat Loss: One major problem these beetles face is habitat loss, often caused by urbanization and development. Without suitable environments to live and hunt, the populations of these remarkable insects will decline. Fortunately, many tiger beetle species live in diverse habitats like sea and lake shores, sand dunes, and woodland paths, which might offer some resilience against habitat degradation.

Pesticides: The use of pesticides can negatively influence tiger beetles and their prey, disrupting the delicate balance of their ecosystems. By reducing their food sources or directly harming their populations, pesticides pose a significant threat to the health and success of these predators.

Climate Change: Climate change and its effects on global weather patterns can lead to changes in the beetles’ habitats. Alterations in temperature and precipitation may force the species to adapt or risk declining populations.

To protect these fascinating insects, you can support conservation efforts that focus on preserving habitats, reducing pesticide use, and mitigating climate change’s effects. This way, future generations can also marvel at the incredible speed and agility of tiger beetles.

Role in Ecosystem

Tiger beetles play a crucial role in their ecosystem, acting as both predators and prey. They contribute to keeping the populations of tiny insects and spiders in check. With over 100 species found in North America alone, they are an essential part of many landscapes, including sea and lake shores, sand dunes, stream edges, and woodlands 1.

Tiger beetles are viewed as beneficial insects due to their predatory nature. The adults are fast runners, and with their powerful jaws, they can efficiently hunt their prey 3. The larvae also exhibit predatory behavior, catching insects using hooks on the back of their abdomen 4. This dual predatory behavior in both adult and larval stages makes tiger beetles effective natural pest controllers.

However, tiger beetles are not only predators; they also serve as food for other species, such as birds, ants, and hister beetles 4. Additionally, they act as hosts for parasitic wasps and bee flies 4. This makes them an essential link in the food chain, showing that even the most formidable predators in the insect world, like the tiger beetle, have their vulnerabilities.

Their adaptability has allowed them to thrive in various environments. Some species, like the ones found in the deserts of Australia, have impressive speed, ranking them among the fastest insects in the world 2. This adaptability and importance in their ecosystems should remind you of the vital role even small creatures, such as ground beetles, play in maintaining the natural balance.

Specific Tiger Beetle Species

When exploring the world of tiger beetles, you may come across various species, many of which exhibit fascinating characteristics and behaviors. Two notable species are the subspecies of the Ohlone tiger beetle, and the six-spotted tiger beetle (Cicindela sexguttata).

Ohlone Tiger Beetle

The Ohlone Tiger Beetle is a unique species discovered in the early 1990s. Initially thought to be a variant of the Cow Path tiger beetle, this beetle gained recognition as a separate species due to structural differences in the genitals. This diurnal predatory beetle displays intriguing traits as part of its life cycle.

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)

Another species worth examining is the six-spotted tiger beetle. This vibrant, green beetle is commonly found in the United States, and catches your eye with its metallic appearance and six white spots. As with other tiger beetles, it’s known for its fast running speed and impressive predatory instincts.

Here’s a brief comparison of these two species:

Characteristic Ohlone Tiger Beetle Six-spotted Tiger Beetle
Subspecies Ohlone Cicindela sexguttata
Discovery Early 1990s Well before the Ohlone species
Color Greenish-bronze with black markings Metallic green with six white spots
Habitat Grasslands Woodlands, lawns, gardens, etc.
Predatory Behavior Diurnal Diurnal

These are just a few examples of the diverse and fascinating tiger beetle world. As you explore further, you’ll discover even more unique species and their intriguing traits.


In this section, we will cover some references about the tiger beetle life cycle, giving you essential information about this fascinating insect.

Tiger beetles are known for their unique biology and behavior. As a predator, both adults and larvae play a vital role in the ecosystem. The University of Nebraska offers essential insights into their life cycle and interactions with other species.

Another valuable resource is Ask A Biologist, which provides an overview of the habits and lifestyle of over 2,760 species of tiger beetles. Here, you’ll discover how they search for their prey and interact with other beetles during their lifetime.

For a more specific look at tiger beetles, consider the North Carolina State University’s Extension page. This guide offers a detailed description of their features and highlights their importance as predators in the biological control of other pests.

When talking about the Ohlone tiger beetle, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provides an excellent resource for understanding this particular species, which was only recently discovered and described in the early 1990s.

Lastly, the Texas A&M University presents a broad overview of tiger beetles, emphasizing their diverse habitats and life cycle stages, as well as their overwintering behaviors.

To help you visualize and compare the characteristics of tiger beetles, here is a simple table of their features:

Feature Tiger Beetle
Life cycle stages Egg, larva, pupa, and adult
Habitat Sea and lake shores, sand dunes, stream edges, clay banks, saline flats, or woodland paths
Predatory behavior Active during day or night, depending on species
Prey items Tiny insects and spiders
Reproductive strategy Males searching for females, females avoiding or getting rid of males

Remember, these sources are valuable resources in understanding the incredible life cycle of tiger beetles, their individual behaviors, and their roles in the ecosystem.

Care in Captivity

Caring for tiger beetles in captivity requires attention to their specific needs. First, let’s focus on their habitat. You’ll want to provide a terrarium with a suitable substrate, such as sand or soil. Keep in mind that their natural habitats include sandy and dry areas, so aim to replicate those conditions.

In terms of temperature, tiger beetles do well in warm environments. Aim for a temperature between 75-85°F (24-29°C) during the day and slightly cooler temperatures at night. A heat lamp or pad can help you maintain these conditions.

Here are a few key elements to consider for optimal care:

  • Food: Tiger beetles are predators, so providing them with appropriate live prey is vital. Feed them small insects like crickets, fruit flies, or mealworms every day or two, depending on their size and how often they eat.

  • Water: Be sure to provide a shallow dish of water, but don’t let it become too deep or overflow. Tiger beetles can drown if subjected to deep or standing water.

  • Space: Make sure there is enough room for your beetles to roam and hunt for prey. A 5-10 gallon terrarium should be sufficient for a few beetles.

  • Hiding spots: Tiger beetles are known to be shy and appreciate having places to hide, so add some small rocks, wood, or plants to your terrarium.

Remember to keep the terrarium clean and well-ventilated, replacing the substrate as needed. By providing the appropriate environment and meeting their dietary needs, you can successfully care for tiger beetles in captivity.


  1. Tiger Beetle – Texas A&M University 2 3 4

  2. Tiger Beetle Adaptations | Ask A Biologist 2 3 4

  3. Tiger Beetle | NC State Extension – North Carolina State University 2

  4. Tiger Beetle Biology, Life Cycle, & Behavior – University of Nebraska 2 3 4

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – One Spotted Tiger Beetle is Apterodela unipunctata


Subject:  Unknown Bug Found While Hiking
Geographic location of the bug:  Gatlinburg, TN
Date: 01/21/2019
Time: 08:35 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi,
I was walking along the Fighting Creek Nature Trail near the Sugarlands Visitor Center outside of Gatlinburg, TN when I saw this bug. I’ve tried googling it but can’t seem to find a match. Any idea what it is?
How you want your letter signed:  Matt

One Spotted Tiger Beetle:  Apterodela unipunctata

Dear Matt,
This is a predatory Tiger Beetle, and many species have metallic green coloration, so we decided to search BugGuide for a Black Tiger Beetle and quickly identified it as
Cicindelidia punctulata thanks to this BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide:  “Overwinters as larva, adults present in summer. One- or two-year life cycle” which makes your January sighting quite unusual.  BugGuide data lists April sightings in Florida as the earliest sightings of the year, and most other states only report sightings from May to October.  Perhaps you took this image last summer?

Wow! Awesome – thank you so much!
And yes, you’re absolutely right it was taken last summer (late June)
Thanks again!

March 14, 2019a:  Correction and Comment from Timothy P Friedlander.
This is actually a very interesting tiger beetle, Apterodela unipunctata, and a good find. They are most active in late May, through June, into July, and prefer sandy woods. They seem to be mostly nocturnal, and less active in the day, and frequently “play dead” when disturbed. They resemble fast, black spiders as they run through the forest litter, and will hide under leaves.

Letter 2 – Japanese Tiger Beetle from Korea


Interesting, and scary, beetle.
Location: Gyeonggi-do Province, Gwangu City, South Korea
May 22, 2011 8:50 am
Dear Whats that Bug,
I stumbled on this ’little’ guy while I was testing an old lens near a large stream. It landed about 3 meters away.
Very very fast moving as well (it scurried a good 5 feet in less than a second). Also quite big. I think it measures to about the length of a 50 cent piece.
Anyways once I saw those mandibles I stayed my distance. I’m guessing it is a male by their size, but they just small enough to be functional. The white on red and black didn’t look particularly pleasant either.
Signature: Ben, South Korea

Japanese Tiger Beetle

Hi Ben,
This magnificent creature is a predatory Japanese Tiger Beetle,
Cicindela japonica.  We don’t believe you need to fear any bodily harm because of encountering this nor any other Tiger Beetle.

Japanese Tiger Beetle

Letter 3 – Mating Big Sand Tiger Beetles


A calvacade of love….
Hey guys,
Thanks so much again, for your wonderful website and your
posting of insect photos so I can identify some of my critters. My
co-workers now think I have some sort of weird perversion to taking
photos of insect ‘porn’. Hmmmm I wonder if I do. I hope you can use
these photos.
Btw, there was a gentleman who answered a dragonfly question for me
earlier this year…if at all possible, could you pass my email address
to him as I would like to pick his brain about the various dragonflies
around this area, and he said he was from Manitoba.
ALSO, all these photos were taken in aspen parklands area of
southwestern Manitoba in Canada.
Sherry Lynn Punak-Murphy
Natural Resource Technician/Biologist
CFB/ASU Shilo, Manitoba

Mating Big Sand Tiger Beetles
Mating Big Sand Tiger Beetles

Hi Again Sherry Lynn,
We are thrilled with all your marvelous images, but our archiving method makes multiple species on a single letter a bit of a problem.  We would love to have you resend the Blister Beetle images using our new submission form on our newly metamorphosed website. We believe your mating Tiger Beetles are Big Sand Tiger Beetles,  Cicindela formosa, based on photos posted to BugGuide. Sadly, we do not keep email addresses from old submissions, but the new comment feature on our website may allow for the dialog you desire.

Letter 4 – Mating California Tiger Beetles


What’s this Beetle:
I’ve checked your archives, and wonder if this is some sort of tiger beetle? We saw them in Death Valley National Park in the salt field this past April.

Hi Tracy,
It stands to reason that since your mating Tiger Beetles are Cicindela californica, the common name would be the California Tiger Beetle, yet BugGuide does not list a common name. This sure is an attractive species.

Letter 5 – Mating Green Tiger Beetles from England


Bug love
Location: Cheviot Hills, northern England
May 10, 2011 5:49 pm
Two insects of a type I’ve never seen before getting friendly. I was just wondering what they were.
Signature: kkjhkj

Mating Green Tiger Beetles

Hi Gary,
These amorous beauties are mating Tiger Beetles in the genus
Cicindela, and they are most likely Cicindela campestris, commonly called the Green Tiger Beetle.  We quickly located a webpage on British Biodiversity that profiles the Green Tiger Beetle and that provides this information:  “They show greater diversity in the warmer parts of the world and only five species of tiger beetle are known in Britain (current British checklist of the Carabidae at http://www.coleopterist.org.uk/). Of these, four are Cicindela species, with C. campestris much the most common.
Tiger beetles constitute the subfamily Cicindelinae within the family Carabidae, or are still recognised by some authors as a separate family, the Cicindelidae. C. campestris is, like most Cicindela species, a creature of open ground, especially heathland on sandy soils in spring and early summer, locally frequent apparently in much of Britain where there is suitable habitat. It runs fast when seizing prey, or if disturbed (or if someone is chasing it in the hope of an in-focus photograph), and it will also readily fly for short distances.”  In addition to England, the species is found over much of Eurasia as far East as Siberia.

Letter 6 – Mating Purple Tiger Beetles, we believe


Mountain Bug love
October 16, 2009
Found these two love-bugs while hiking a mountain in the Hudson Valley region of New York state during late spring. I’m not sure what they are, but I think they’re in love ;).
Hudson Valley, New York

Mating Purple Tiger Beetles
Mating Purple Tiger Beetles

Hi Tori,
These are mating Tiger Beetles in the genus Cicindela.  There are numerous species illustrated on BugGuide.  We believe they may be Purple Tiger Beetles, Cicindela purpurea, though we would prefer to have an actual expert confirm the species ID.  You can check out the photos and description of the Purple Tiger Beetle on BugGuide.

Dave Gracer’s comment
What’s cool about this pic is that the female has got some food, most likely supplied by the male as a token.  In other words, sex for food.  Other kinds of animals do this — I don’t know how many, but I know that roadrunners to it.  Pretty fascinating, when you consider the possibility that there are some vague analogies in our species.

Letter 7 – Mating Six Spotted Tiger Beetles


Subject: Tiger Beetles!
Location: Barrington, New Hampshire
May 9, 2013 6:41 am
Hey again Bugman!
Just sending along those Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle shots I mentioned. I was lucky enough to have these two come running right up to my shoes when I stopped and waited so I got some really nice shots. Hope you enjoy!
Signature: Black Zarak

Six Spotted Tiger Beetles
Six Spotted Tiger Beetles

Dear Black Zarak,
Thanks for sending these photos of mating Six Spotted Tiger Beetles.  In the first photo, it appears the beetle on the left, which we assume is the female, might be in a position to release pheromones.  At any rate, it is a “come hither” pose.

Mating Six Spotted Tiger Beetles
Mating Six Spotted Tiger Beetles

Letter 8 – Mating Tiger Beetles


I just love your site. You have helped me identify dozens of bugs. I believe the picture I sent is of mating tiger beetles. We came across a bunch of them running around on a trail through a State Park in central Florida. Pic was taken in mid June of 2008. I’m just sending it for your buglove pages, as I don’t think I saw any there.
Jim from Everett, PA

Hi Jim,
We believe your mating Tiger Beetles are Cicindela hirtilabris, as pictured on BugGuide which states that it ranges in: “Peninsular Florida and extreme southeastern Georgia” and that it is “found commonly in dry white sand areas including trails, road edges, and open areas with sparse vegetation.” Another similar species found in the panhandle of Florida is Cicindela gratiosa, the Whitish Tiger Beetle.

Letter 9 – Mating Cow Path Tiger Beetles from Canada


Subject: Beetles Matting?
Location: S.E. British Columbia Canada
April 15, 2014 8:14 pm
Observed these two beetles when looking for spring flowers. They were in a grass meadow, Douglas Fir forest at the headwaters of the Columbia River, Invermere, BC Canada. Date was April 13, 2014
Signature: Larry Halverson

Mating Tiger Beetles
Mating Cow Patch Tiger Beetles

Hi Larry,
These are mating Tiger Beetles in the subfamily Cicindelinae, probably in the genus
Cicindela.  We will continue to attempt a species identification, but as you can see from BugGuide, there are many similar looking species.  Tiger Beetles are adept predators that run down their prey, though they are also capable of flight.

Thank you for your quick response. What a  wonderful service you offer.

Letter 10 – Ocellated Tiger Beetle Carnage


Subject:  Beetle identification
Geographic location of the bug:  Oklahoma City, OK
Date: 08/19/2019
Time: 12:37 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  What is this beetle? Found it in my house. Wondering if this is what killed one of my trees! Thanks!
How you want your letter signed:  Oklahoma Beetle

Ocellated Tiger Beetle

This harmless, predatory Tiger Beetle did not kill your tree.  We believe we have correctly identified it as an Ocellated Tiger Beetle thanks to this Gossamer Tapestry image and this BugGuide image.  We will be tagging this submission as Unnecessary Carnage in an effort to educate the public that every insect encountered is not a threat.

Cara on Facebook Asks:  Why do people kill first, then ask questions?!

Letter 11 – Pacific Coast Tiger Beetle


Cicindela bellissima?
On the sand on the Oregon coast. I’ll include the out-of-focus one for the sake of the head markings…

We concur that this is a Pacific Coast Tiger Beetle, Cicindela bellissima, based on images posted to BugGuide.

Letter 12 – Painted Tiger Beetle from Israel


Painted tiger beetle from Israel
February 14, 2010
Hi Bug People!
I haven’t sent anything in a while, but this weekend I finally found a bunch of cool critters for your site. These are from the northern Negev desert, which is all in bloom now, like walking through a kaleidoscope!

Painted Tiger Beetle

This first one is a painted tiger beetle (direct translation from the Hebrew name) Graphipterus serrator.
More to come soon…
Northwestern Negev, Israel

Painted Tiger Beetle

Hi Ben,
Thanks so much for sending us these wonderful images of a Painted Tiger Beetle.  It really does look like it got in the way and got spattered as the fence was being whitewashed.  We found a photo of it on the Coleop-Terra website, but that is of a mounted specimen, and we much prefer your photos of a living specimen in its natural environment.  We see that you sent us several additional images, and we will post them as time permits.

Painted Tiger Beetle

Letter 13 – Pan American Big Headed Tiger Beetle Carnage


Subject: Shiny beetle found in my garden
Location: Galveston county, Texas
July 10, 2016 2:34 pm
I was watering my garden and this bug came out of the mud/dirt. It reminds me of a Japanese beetle and a grasshopper mixed together. I’ve seen two of the same kind of bug very close to my tomatoes and in no other part of my garden. Both times it was about mid-day (summer time) near Galveston, Tx. I just want to know what it is and if it’s bad.
Signature: All my thanks, Morgan

Pan American Big Headed Tiger Beetle Carnage
Pan American Big Headed Tiger Beetle Carnage

Dear Morgan,
Not only is it beautiful, this Tiger Beetle is a beneficial predator that will help control the number of insects in your garden naturally.  We believe we have correctly identified this beauty as a Pan American Big Headed Tiger Beetle or Carolina Metallic Tiger Beetle,
Tetracha carolina, thanks to images posted to BugGuide.  According to BugGuide:  “Sandbanks of rivers, pastures, open, disturbed areas. Often found near water. Nocturnal, found under boards, rocks, trash, etc. during day.”  We hope you will tolerate this gorgeous predator in the future, but for now we have to tag your submission as Unnecessary Carnage.

Letter 14 – Possibly Big Sands Tiger Beetle


Subject: Cicindela species
Location: Isanti County, MN
June 15, 2013 7:38 pm
I found this little guy today on a bug hunt, and I had never seen him before. I think I have him narrowed down to one of two species: C. hirticollis or C. tranquebarica. I’m leaning towards tranquebarica based on the environment he was scuttling through, but I wanted to see what you think.
Signature: Amber

Big Sands Tiger Beetle, perhaps
Big Sands Tiger Beetle, perhaps

Hi Amber,
Though you indicated that the environment was right, you didn’t specify what that environment was, so we cannot be certain.  We actually like the Big Sands Tiger Beetle,
Cicindela formosa, for a possible identification.  Bugguide indicates it prefers:  “Dry sandy areas: blowouts, dunes, roadsides.”  Minnesota is in the range.

Letter 15 – Possibly Northwest Hairy-Necked Tiger Beetle


Subject:  beetle ID
Geographic location of the bug:  Banks of Green River in western washington, near Auburn Washington
Date: 06/19/2018
Time: 04:52 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Found this little guy on the bank of the green river in western Washington (June). Runs very fast, I only got picture while one was stopped. Appears to be tan or gold. What is it?
How you want your letter signed:  Larry Silsbee

Northwest Hairy-Necked Tiger Beetle

Dear Larry,
This is a beneficial, predatory Tiger Beetle in the subfamily Cicindelinae, and based on images posted to The Xerces Society and BugGuide, we believe it is the Northwest Hairy-Necked Tiger Beetle,
Cicindela hirticollis siuslawensis.  According to BugGuide:  “Almost always in close association with a body of water i.e., sandy beaches of streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans.”

Letter 16 – Possibly Schaupp's Tiger Beetle


jumping sand bug
November 12, 2009
I found this bug while walking on the beach in galveston, texas. They were jumping everywhere like fleas! They are over a centimeter long. Their undersides are metallic green, from the top they are brown with a whitish pattern
Michelle D.
Gelveston, TX, USA

Schaupp's Tiger Beetle
Schaupp's Tiger Beetle

Hi Michelle,
This is a beneficial predatory Tiger Beetle.  We believe, based on images and information posted to BugGuide, that this is Schaupp’s Tiger Beetle, Cicindela schauppii.  It is found in Texas and Oklahoma in sandy and gravelly areas with limestone outcrops.  Sightings are primarily in the autumn.  We hope the individual in your photo died of natural causes.


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15 Comments. Leave new

  • What’s cool about this pic is that the female has got some food, most likely supplied by the male as a token. In other words, sex for food. Other kinds of animals do this — I don’t know how many, but I know that roadrunners to it. Pretty fascinating, when you consider the possibility that there are some vague analogies in our species.

  • mardikavana
    May 11, 2011 3:36 pm

    This is indeed C.campestris.

  • This is Cicindela trifasciata , the S-banded Tiger Beetle.

  • Beauties!

  • This does seem to be a Big Sand Tiger Beetle, Cicindela formosa. Cicindela tranquebarica has more reduced maculations; see A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada. (Pearson, et. al)

  • These are likely members of Cicindela purpurea Olivier, the Cow Path Tiger Beetle, probably from the the subspecies C. purpurea audubonii LeConte. This species’ range extends northwards into British Colombia and Alberta. Sources: Pearson, D. L., et al. 2006. A field guide to the tiger beetles of the United States and Canada. Oxford University Press, New York, New York .
    Bugguide: http://bugguide.net/node/view/8994#range

    • Hi Austin,
      Thanks so much for the identification. We would like nothing better than to be able to stay home all day and more thoroughly research all of the identification requests that we receive, however, we need to go to our day job in order to pay the bills. We will update the posting with a new subject line.

  • These are likely members of Cicindela purpurea Olivier, the Cow Path Tiger Beetle, probably from the the subspecies C. purpurea audubonii LeConte. This species’ range extends northwards into British Colombia and Alberta. Sources: Pearson, D. L., et al. 2006. A field guide to the tiger beetles of the United States and Canada. Oxford University Press, New York, New York .
    Bugguide: http://bugguide.net/node/view/8994#range

  • I grew up in west Texas and we had several different color variations of beetles like these. I dont see them nearly as much anymore and was wondering why that might be. Just curious.

  • Timothy P Friedlander
    March 14, 2019 2:30 pm

    This is actually a very interesting tiger beetle, Apterodela unipunctata, and a good find. They are most active in late May, through June, into July, and prefer sandy woods. They seem to be mostly nocturnal, and less active in the day, and frequently “play dead” when disturbed. They resemble fast, black spiders as they run through the forest litter, and will hide under leaves.

    • Dear Timothy,
      Thank you so much for the correction and what sound to us like first-hand observations.


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