Tiger Beetle vs Spider: Uncovering Nature’s Fierce Battle

Tiger beetles and spiders are fascinating creatures, both displaying unique hunting techniques and adaptations. In the world of predators, these two species stand out due to their remarkable abilities.

Tiger beetles are known for their incredible speed and agility. They rely on their fast running and powerful jaws to catch their prey, which mainly consists of small insects and spiders. These beetles are found in various habitats, with over 2,760 species thriving on the ground and in various environments link.

Spiders, on the other hand, come in more than 48,000 species. They are experts in weaving webs and use venomous bites to hunt down their prey. Each type of spider has a unique hunting style that sets it apart from others.

Comparing tiger beetles and spiders, we notice that these two groups of predators have distinct hunting strategies and abilities. While tiger beetles rely on their speed and powerful jaws, spiders use their specialized webs and venom to secure their next meal. This makes these species remarkably efficient predators in their respective ecosystems.

Basic Characteristics

Tiger Beetle Traits

Tiger beetles are a group of predatory invertebrates belonging to the subfamily Cicindelinae in the order Coleoptera. These beetles have a body length of around 9-22 millimeters and are known for their exceptional vision, speed, and powerful mandibles. The adult beetles are often iridescent, which adds to their beauty. Some species can reach running speeds of up to 9 km/h (5.6 mph), making them among the fastest insects in the world.

Examples of tiger beetles include the Cicindela campestris and Cicindela dorsalis. They can be found in a variety of environments, such as woodland areas and sandy surfaces.

Spider Traits

Spiders are arthropods belonging to the class Arachnida and order Araneae. With over 48,000 known species, they exhibit a wide range of characteristics. Spiders primarily rely on their web-building abilities and venomous bite to capture and subdue prey. The body of a spider is divided into two main parts: the cephalothorax, which contains the head and thorax, and the abdomen.

Common examples of spiders include the wolf spider and the orb-weaver spider. They can be found in various environments, from forests to human-made structures.

Comparative Body Anatomy

Trait Tiger Beetle Spider
Body Parts Head, thorax, abdomen Cephalothorax, abdomen
Appendages 6 legs, 2 antennae, elytra 8 legs, pedipalps, spinnerets
Exoskeleton Chitinous exoskeleton Hardened cuticle
Primary Weapon Powerful mandibles Venomous bite

Environment and Habitats

Tiger beetles and spiders can be found in various environments, although they favor different habitats. Tiger beetles generally prefer open habitats such as sandy areas, woodland clearings, and riverbanks. On the other hand, spiders can be found in a wider range of habitats, including forests, grasslands, wetlands, and even human-made structures.

To summarize, both tiger beetles and spiders, despite having different body structures and hunting strategies, are fascinating creatures that can be found in diverse environments.

Life Cycle and Reproduction

Tiger Beetle Reproduction

Tiger beetles, belonging to the genus Cicindela, have an interesting life cycle. The process starts with mating, wherein the males constantly search for females. After successful mating, the female lays her eggs in a shallow burrow she creates herself. The larvae that hatch from the eggs are unique among insects – they have hooks located on the back of their abdomen to anchor them to the side of the burrow while they subdue large prey1. The larval period may last up to four years, during which they grow and molt before becoming adults1.

Spider Reproduction

Spiders, on the other hand, follow a different reproductive process. Males deposit their sperm onto a small silk web, then use their pedipalps to transfer it to the female’s reproductive organs2. The female spider lays her eggs within a special protective sac, which can contain up to several thousand eggs depending on the species2. Spiderlings hatch from the eggs and undergo several molts before reaching adulthood. Some spider species are known to carry their young on their backs, while others leave them to fend for themselves2.

Tiger Beetles Spiders
Reproduction Males search for females Males transfer sperm via pedipalps
Egg-laying In burrows In protective egg sacs
Larval Stage Hooks to anchor in burrow None
Development Time Up to four years Varies depending on species
Parental Care None Varies depending on species

In summary, tiger beetles and spiders have different reproductive processes and life cycles. Tiger beetles utilize hooks during their larval stage and lay eggs in burrows, while spiders transfer sperm using pedipalps and lay eggs in protective sacs. The development time and parental care vary in both species, making their life cycles unique to their environments.

Behavioral Patterns

Tiger Beetle Behavior

Tiger beetles, as their name suggests, are aggressive predators. They possess large mandibles to capture and kill their prey. Here are some of their characteristics:

  • Ambush: Tiger beetles wait for prey to come near them before they pounce.
  • Running speed: They have incredible running speed, often outpacing their prey.

One interesting fact is that tiger beetles run so fast that they become temporarily blind, needing to stop and relocate their prey before resuming the chase.

Spider Behavior

Spiders have a range of hunting techniques, including web-building and ambushing. Different species have their own unique behaviors:

  • Web building: Some spiders create intricate webs to catch prey that flies or crawls into them.
  • Ambush: Other spiders, like jumping spiders, actively hunt and ambush their prey.

In the world of entomologists, spiders are known to be quite diverse. Males often have elaborate courtship behaviors, such as the peacock spider’s dance to attract females.

Tiger Beetles Spiders
Predator Style Ambush & Running Speed Web building & Ambushing
Prey Visibility Temporarily Blind Continuous Vision
Courtship Not mentioned Elaborate (in some species)

Now that you know about the behavioral patterns of tiger beetles and spiders, you can better appreciate their roles as predators in nature.

Interaction and Fights

Bug Fights

You might have come across bug fights on YouTube where insects face off in predatory battles. While some find it entertaining, others argue that it promotes cruelty towards animals. In these fights, you may see different insects, such as the tiger beetles and spiders. Please note that such practices are prohibited and may not be ethical.

Example of a Bug Fight:

  • Japanese bug fights, a YouTube series showcasing various insects battling each other, gained popularity but soon faced criticism.

Spider Vs Tiger Beetle

Tiger beetles and spiders are both incredible predators in their respective habitats. Although they are not natural competitors, let’s briefly compare their features and abilities.

Tiger Beetles:

  • These insects are fast runners and can chase down their prey with ease. Tiger beetles have powerful jaws, which make them known as the “tigers” of the insect world.
  • They are known to run so quickly that their eyes momentarily become unable to process the changing imagery, causing them to pause and relocate their prey.


  • Spiders use their web-spinning abilities and venomous fangs to catch and subdue their prey.
  • They come in various sizes, with some being small enough to go unnoticed while others can grow to be large and intimidating hunters, like the tarantulas.
Feature Tiger Beetle Spider
Speed Extremely fast Varies, usually slower than tiger beetles
Weapons Powerful jaws Venomous fangs and silk webs
Hunting technique Run and chase strategy Use silk webs to catch prey

Keep in mind that pitting them against each other for entertainment is not ethical. Both tiger beetles and spiders play essential roles in their ecosystems, and their fascinating hunting techniques should be appreciated within their natural settings.

Conservation and Study

While both tiger beetles and spiders are fascinating creatures, they also serve as valuable subjects of study for entomologists like those at Cornell University. Conservation efforts are important for these species, as they play crucial roles in their respective ecosystems.

Tiger Beetles

Tiger beetles belong to the family Cicindelidae, and they are known for their voracious predatory behavior and striking appearance. You may be interested to learn that:

  • They are one of the fastest insects on Earth.
  • They come in various colors, often with metallic, iridescent, or patterned bodies.

Conservationists invest efforts in preserving the habitats of tiger beetles, as their presence is an indicator of the health of the environment. By protecting these amazing creatures, you contribute to the overall well-being of the ecosystem.


Spiders are essential to maintaining the balance in ecosystems, as they help control the populations of various insect species. Here are some interesting facts about spiders:

  • They are arachnids, not insects, and are classified in a separate group.
  • There are more than 45,000 known spider species worldwide.

As with tiger beetles, preserving the habitats of spiders is important for the stability of their ecosystems. Conservation efforts focused on spiders contribute to keeping insect populations in check and thus promote a healthy environment.

In conclusion, both tiger beetles and spiders are valuable to conservationists, researchers, and the ecosystem as a whole. By understanding the necessity of preserving their habitats and studying their unique characteristics, you play a part in ensuring the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants.


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

  2. Spiders – Reproduction and Life Cycle 2 3

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 – Three species of Tiger Beetles from Wyoming


Tiger Beetles
Sun, May 17, 2009 at 4:32 AM
Hi Lisa Anne and Daniel, thank you for your generous remarks of 5/10. Central WY has been cool and uncharacteristically cloudy this spring, Lepidoptera seem less evident and other orders more so. These tiger beetles especially have stood out. Please correct my i.d.s where necessary.
Your site is still the best!
near Casper, WY

Green Claybank Tiger Beetle???
Badlands Tiger Beetle

Ed. Note:  March 22, 2017
We have made corrections to the names of these Wyoming Tiger Beetles based on a comment submitted by Bill Prather.

Hi Dwaine,
Either the Montana Field Guide website Tiger Beetle page has a dearth of photos, or there is something currently wrong with it. When we tried clicking
Green Claybank Tiger Beetle, Cicindela denverensis, we get a message that indicates “No photos are currently available.” Upon turning to BugGuide, we see that your specimen appears to match the pictured specimen posted there. The Festive Tiger Beetle – Cicindela scutellaris scutellaris is also noticeably absent from the Montana Field Guide site, but is present on BugGuide, though the common name Festive Tiger Beetle is not indicated. The habitat is listed as “Commonly found in dry sandy habitats with sparse vegetation such as blowouts, dune swales, and roads.” Once again, your photo matches the subspecies of this species posted on BugGuide. The subspecies is found in Alberta, Canada which borders Montana.

Festive Tiger Beetle???
Festive Tiger Beetle

Finally, the specimen that you have identified as a Beautiful Tiger Beetle is not listed on the Montana site.  It does not resemble the images posted to BugGuide.  We would be more inclined to identify it as the Bronzed Tiger Beetle or Common Shore Tiger Beetle, Cicindela repanda, based on images posted to BugGuide.  It is listed on the Montana Field Guide Tiger Beetle page, but once again, “No photos are currently available.”  We really believe a true expert in the genus is needed for positive identifications of Tiger Beetles, but we will post our tentative identifications nonetheless.  Thanks Dwaine for your wonderful photos.  Posting this entry ate up our allotted web time today and we have chores to attend to now.

Bronzed Tiger Beetle???
Oblique Lined Tiger Beetle

Letter 2 – Tiger Beetle


Identifying A VERY FAST Ant-Eating Bug
We’ve lived in and around Wake County in North Carolina for over 50 years now, and saw the following bug for the first time this past weekend. He would just sit still until something, ANYTHING, would move and then he was off like a shot. However, he only made a meal out of ants, and didn’t miss a single one that left their hill and ventured onto our patio. He’s actually about 1/2 to 3/4 inches long. Would love to know what he is. Hope you can help. Many thanks!
P. Elaine Huntley

Hi P. Elaine,
This is a Tiger Beetle, probably a Six Spotted Tiger Beetle. We especially like the information your provided regarding this beetles fondness for ants.

Letter 3 – Tiger Beetle


Camouflage-y Fun
I became slightly obsessed with your site just before I went treeplanting in Northern Ontario this summer so I figured I may as well get a few pictures while I was up there and see if I couldn’t identify them. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much time on the clear-cuts to take photos (especially with mosquitoes, blackflies, no-see-ums, deerflies, and horseflies chasing me around all the time!) so I missed many of the stranger-looking bugs (i.e. the phantom crane fly). Still I got a few nice pictures of moths and butterflies around camp. I also chased around the beetle in this picture. It caught my eye, I followed it for a while, took my picture and then when I looked at the picture in the tiny screen on my camera, I thought I must have missed the beetle somehow. I figured you might like a nice example of insect camouflage. Also, I have included a picture of what I assume is a dragonfly naiad. I am unused to seeing insects crawling on the bottom of a lake so it caught my eye.

Hi Jorge,
As obsessions go, you could do way worst than us. This is some species of Tiger Beetle in the genus Cicindela. BugGuide has numerous species represented, but exact identification may be difficult without the specimen itself.

Letter 4 – Tiger Beetle


Let’s I.D.this one that whines when picked up
I’ve got another one for you, I have looked all around your beetle pages and can’t seem to id this one. When It was picked up it may a noise like a crying baby and once again we need you assistance to identify it. I thought it may be some type of stag beetle because of the jaws, but it just isn’t the right color. Thanks again, Tiffany

Hi Tiffany,
We thought this looked like one of the ground beetles, but we checked with Eric Eaton for a second opinion. Here is his response: “Well, yes, this is a carabid….sort of:-) Depends on whether you still consider tiger beetles a separate family! This looks to be a specimen of Megacephala virginica. If it has ivory marks on the tips of the wing covers then it is M. carolina. Yes, they are cool!” Tiger Beetles belong to the Family Cicindelidae and they are voracious hunters that prey on many injurious insects.

Update (08/22/2006)
Hello Lisa Anne and Daniel, I recently came across your website and I was pleased to see such a vibrant (and well-done) site. I’m an entomologist and evolutionary biologist (specializing on the systematics, taxonomy and evolution of tiger beetles and their close relatives) and I have to say that I’m impressed with your accuracy rate! It’s much, much better than other comparable sites I’ve come across over the years. The two of you must really love insects. In any case, I noticed that you are open to information from specialists, so I thought I’d give you a few ID’s of species that I came across on your pages. I was having trouble sleeping, so I went through all of the tiger beetles, scaratines, etc and checked them out. Here you go: I’ll bookmark your site and check it out when I’m having trouble sleeping again!
This is indeed a Megacephala (Tetracha) species, but actually M. carolina. You can most easily tell the two US species of Megacephala apart by coloration. M. carolina has a rainbow-colored back… red, green, and unpigmented cream-colored areas at the tip of the back (elytra). M. virginica is much bigger (17-22 mm) and is entirely dark metallic black-green on the back except for the cream-colored markings. It also has a noticeably rougher texture. Hope that helps! The whine is called “stridulation” and often occurs when some species of insects are picked up (a number of insects do this). And yes, the majority of professional insect systematists recognize tiger beetles as a subfamily/supertribe within the Carabidae. Nice photo!
Daniel P. Duran
Dept. of Biological Sciences
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN

Letter 5 – Tiger Beetle


Metallic Green beetle in Central New Jersey near Delaware River
I can’t find an identity for this metallic green flying beetle (about 1.5 cm long). It was photographed last week (early June) on 480 foot high Baldpate Mountain overlooking the Delaware River in central New Jersey (Hopewell Township in Mercer County). I’vc seen others here, but not elsewhere.
James Goodman
Princeton, N.J.

Hi James,
What a beautiful photo of a beautiful Tiger Beetle. We believe this might be a Six Spotted Tiger Beetle, Cicindela sexguttata. Your specimen appears to have very faint markings quite different from the average specimen, but BugGuide shows a spotless Six Spotted Tiger Beetle.

Letter 6 – Tiger Beetle


Shiny Metallic Beetle?
Lived all my life in/around Houston, Texas. Never seen this bug till this year. They are everywhere. Outside on porches, 2-3 get inside every day. They are about 1/2"-3/4" long and VERY fast. Do you have any idea what they are?

Hi Eddie,
What a beautiful Tiger Beetle. It is a Carolina Tiger Beetle, Megacephala carolina. There is also a nice photo on Bugguide. If collectors catch wind that you have a population explosion, they may decend upon you as Tiger Beetles are very popular with collectors. This species is highly beneficial as it is a predator. Thanks for sending your gorgeous photo of a gorgeous insect.

Letter 7 – Tiger Beetle


Subject: Green and blue bug
Location: MInnesota
June 9, 2017 7:23 pm
I see this bug right in my yard. It is amazing but what is it?
Signature: BettyLou

Six Spotted Tiger Beetle

Dear BettyLou,
This is a harmless, beneficial, predatory Tiger Beetle, most likely an unspotted Six Spotted Tiger Beetle,
Cicindela sexguttata, which is pictured on BugGuide. where you will find this comment:  “C. sexguttata generally become less spotted as one goes west, so many individuals in Iowa are likely spotless.”


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    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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2 thoughts on “Tiger Beetle vs Spider: Uncovering Nature’s Fierce Battle”

  1. I can’t believe no one has corrected this information before so maybe corrections don’t post? The top photo is Badlands Tiger Beetle, Cicindela decemnotata, the bottom one is Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle, Cicindela tranquebarica. The center one is Festive Tiger Bettle, as labeled.


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