Thursday, September 11, 2008

Punctured Tiger Beetle

A Summer/Fall Tiger Beetle

Punctured Tiger Beetle
Cicindela (Cicindelidia) punctulata

Additional photo

We were enjoying a walk at the Ft. Worth Nature Refuge when Martha spotted this Tiger Beetle on a walkway. This was our first find of this species at the Nature Center. We have seen the Six-Spotted Tiger Beetle there occasionally. I know two things about this new (for us) Tiger Beetle. One, they have good vision. Two, they are wary, as the information below states. I never could get closer than about five feet and I could never get to the front or side of this bug. I shot a lot of poor quality photos, all from the rear. Every time I tried to get closer, he would fly about two to three feet. The flight distance was always about the same. I took my eye off of him for one instant, and you know the rest. I estimated his size at about 5/8 inch.

Some information about this Genus and species.......

Common Tiger Beetles, Genus Cicindela

This genus includes almost 900 of the 2600 known species of tiger beetles worldwide. Adults range tremendously in size (5-25 mm) and color and live in habitats from forest and alpine to desert grassland and ocean beaches. They occur on every continent except Antarctica and all but the most isolated oceanic islands. A great variety of soil-surface types are used as foraging habitat by adults and larvae. Adults of most species in this genus forage for food and mate in open areas with little vegetation, but some live on the floor of tropical rain forest. Others are so specialized that they occur only on cliff edges, large boulder tops, or on fallen logs in moist forest. They quickly respond to predators and danger by flying short distances, although a few are flightless.

American Tiger Beetles, Subgenus (Cicindelidia)

Confined to the Western Hemisphere, this subgenus contains perhaps 80 or more species, most of which occur in Mexico and Central America. Twenty-one of these species occur in the United States and Canada, and an additional species is hypothetical for its occurrence here. The characters of the subgenus include eyes less protruding and legs shorter than most other groups within the genus Cicindela. Many of the species expose contrasting red-brown to bright orange abdomens when their elytra are spread in flight. Most species of Cicindelidia are active as adults only during the summer.

Punctured Tiger Beetle, Cicindela (Cicindelidia) punctulata

Description: Length 11-13 mm; a highly variable species, it can be black, brown, olive, or metallic green to blue-green above with maculations absent, reduced to small spots and short lines, or rarely complete. The tips of the closed elytra come to a broad point. The body is narrow, espe¬cially the thorax. Below it is metallic green, blue, and copper. Two rows of shallow but distinct pits run parallel along either side of the inner elytral edges.

Distribution and habitats: One of the most widely ranging species in North America, the Punctured Tiger Beetle in the east is found mainly in upland habitats with dry, hard-packed soils and sparse grasses present. These habitats include dusty roads, old trails, pastures, roadside ditches, strip mines, eroded gullies, city lawns, gardens, crop fields, sidewalks, parking lots, rock hillsides, sand pits, and dunes. In the west it occurs most regularly in the vicinity of water, such as the edge of rivers, lakes, marshes, irrigation ditches, temporary ponds, and alkali mud flats from lowland prairies to mountain tops.

Behavior: A solitary species in dry upland habitats of the east, it tends to be more gregarious around limited wet areas in the west. It is wary but is a weak flier with short escape flights. It is commonly attracted to lights at night. Because it so regularly occurs in agricultural areas, there is some evidence that some populations may have developed resistance to pesticides.

Seasonality: A summer active species, adults can be found from April to November, but are most active from July to august. In the southwest, summer rains limit activity to July-September. It over winters as larvae and has a one to two year life cycle.

Information taken from:

A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada
By Pearson, Knisley, and Kazilek
For information and pricing on this book at, Click here.

For a great article on Missouri Tigers in the Missouri Conservationist Online, Click here.
It’s a great article about Tiger Beetles in general.

Two of my favorite blog sites for Tiger Beetles are:

Beetles in the Bush and
Gossamer Tapestry

Click on the links

If you read this far down the post, and found it interesting and informative,
Please leave a comment. Did you follow the links? Did you enjoy them?

Troy and Martha


Doug Taron said...

Hi Troy and Martha,

Thanks for the link. You said:

"Every time I tried to get closer, he would fly about two to three feet. The flight distance was always about the same. I took my eye off of him for one instant, and you know the rest."

Yep, sounds about right to me. I think your ID is good. I downloaded the image and magnified it in photoshop. The pits that give the species its name are visible.

Daryl said...

Camera shy .. and I am sure he/she thought you were papparazzi and going to sell his shot to the Enquirer


Anonymous said...

Yes, this is the punctured tiger beetle (Cicindela punctulata). The longitudinal rows of tiny iridescent punctures along the elytral midline are diagnostic. This wide-ranging species is usually dark brown, but out west they take on a gorgeous suffusing of green and blue (called subspecies chiricahuae, though in my opinion a misapplication of the true subspecies concept - but that is another story). Your post nicely summarizes things for this species.

One must be patient and persistent in order to real close to these guys. Best time to photograph is early in the day before they've had a chance to warm up. Overcast conditions also help. My colleague, Chris Brown, and I have learned to move AS SLOWLY AS POSSIBLE toward the beetle, eventually acheiving a fully prone position so that the beetle is just inches from the camera (and our face). He and I have succeeded in getting live field photographs of every species known to occur in Missouri.

Regards -- Ted

Jo's-D-Eyes said...

He Martha and troy,

oooow what is that? an biting bug? A tiger means to me always " Watch it!" feeling, nice photography,

Love your blog
JoAnn's D Eyes

Note: because you-2 did/could not (yet)reply on m Question (Q:sign-in 4 SWF)... Maybe Tom is sign-ing me-in this evening for SWF, if not.. please doyou wantto do it for me? Thanks:)

( I am in the"Heineken Music hall" for a concert, this evening-thats why...)

Tess Kincaid said...

Interesting beetle post. I like the Beatles! hee-hee!

He looks pretty on that concrete or stone for his photo shoot!

Louise said...

Why is it those small things never let us get close enough for good pictures? Do they think we're going to squash them like a bug?

kjpweb said...

Very good capture! Not quite my area of expertise - but I take your word for it! ;)
Well done!
Cheers, Klaus

Cath said...

Ew! A beetle. But a good photo of a beetle. ;0)

Unknown said...

I love your pictures. I am SO glad these bugs don't live near us! I also love your skywatch picture! So pretty!