Green Tiger Beetle

2024 June 23

After all these years, I finally caught an undamaged tiger beetle on June 16, 2024, and got it home to get some decent pictures.

This is a green six-spotted tiger beetle, Cicindela sexguttata. It’s the same species as the one Anne Beffel let me have a picture of last year. This time, we have considerably higher magnification and can see a lot more detail.

In particular, now we can see those jaws. Tiger beetles are highly predatory, and will eat any other arthropods that they catch.

The mandibles are very serious, they overlap like shears and are probably good for carving chunks out of their prey. Like most other beetles, they don’t have venom, so they have to overcome their prey by brute force. This looks like it would be most effective on insect larvae like caterpillars and maggots.

The reason it has taken me so long to get a decent set of tiger beetle photos, is that they are extremely fast. Normally when I spot one, it sees me too and immediately takes wing and flies off before I can get closer than about 6 feet. This one was out of its preferred environment, though. Instead of being on an open sandy surface (which is where you normally find them), it was in a grassy patch. And when it tried to fly off, the grass stalks were in the way of its wings, and it got sufficiently tangled up that I was able to grab it. I ended up carrying it home in my hand. One would think that with mandibles like that, it would have pinched me until I let it go. But no, it didn’t do that. It might be possible to goad a tiger beetle into biting a human, but this one didn’t bite me even though it had plenty of opportunity. So, overall, I’d say they are pretty harmless to humans. Although they are sudden death to other comparable-sized insects.

The green six-spotted tiger beetles like this one are the most commonly seen tiger beetles in the northern parts of North America. There are other species around too, but a this rate it will probably be another decade before I catch any of them.

One Response leave one →
  1. Steve Plumb permalink
    June 25, 2024

    Great pictures! And best of luck in your pursuit of fast critters.

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