Green Tiger Beetle and Green Leuconycta Moth

2023 April 9

Back in March, Sandy and I were at an art exhibit in the Rozsa Center at Michigan Tech. One of the exhibits was an interactive display of photographs by Anne Beffel, where she had selected one photo she had taken of something she had found striking each day over a period of two years. Most of these were taken around her house in Houghton. And while we were looking at the photos, this one struck me. It’s a Green Tiger Beetle, Cicindela_sexguttata. I’ve seen these before, but they are remarkably hard to photograph, because they run fast, are hard to catch, and even harder to persuade to hold still. I am very impressed that Anne got a picture of this one, and she agreed to let me post it here. I’m even more impressed that she apparently took the picture with an iphone, not a macro camera.

Here it is zoomed in a bit closer. Beetles in this species are also called the “six spotted tiger beetles”, because it has anywhere from zero to eight white spots (like this one) on the wing covers. The average number is apparently six, though (usually the bigger ones around the wing margins are present).

Calling them “green tiger beetles” is less ambiguous, because they are always green. Well, except for when they are blue. Ah, the heck with it.

The reason they are so fast, is that they are active hunters, chasing down all manner of other small invertebrates to eat. At least, the adults are fast. The larvae live in burrows in the ground, and when something wanders past the mouth of the burrow, it lunges out and grabs them. I really need to find one of the larvae sometime.

There are several species of tiger beetles locally, but the only one I ever got pictures of was this green-margined tiger beetle from way back in 2007. And those pictures were not nearly as good as Annes, because my previous specimen had been hit and crippled by a passing car. Which on the one hand didn’t do its looks any good, but on the other hand was probably the only reason I was able to catch it at all.

And, since that was only one photograph, I thought it would be nice to include another one-shot photo. This next one is a Green Leuconycta moth, Leuconycta diphteroides. It came to our porch light on June 9, 2020, but I only got two nearly-identical pictures before it panicked and flew off.

It turns out I already posted pictures of one of these on 2012/06/06/, and I had photographed it the previous year, so this was about 12 years ago. Although, that one was not the same color, it was considerably less green than this one. Here’s the dorsal shot of the previous one.

So, there appears to be considerable individual variation. Kind of like the tiger beetle and its spots.

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