Synonyms and other taxonomic changes
Used to be treated as a separate family, Cicindelidae.
This site follows the classification of Erwin & Pearson (2008)(1) (somewhat adapted) but see also(2)
117 spp. in 14 genera of 3 tribes in our area(2)
Shape distinctive: Elytra nearly straight-sided or somewhat wider apically; pronotum narrower than elytra, head at eyes wider than pronotum
Clypeus wider than distance between sockets of antennae
Large, sickle-shaped mandibles
Legs long and slender
Coloration brownish, black, or green, often brightly patterned, sometimes iridescent
Larvae elongate, cylindrical, somewhat grub-like, with powerful, upward–curving mandibles
Keys to species: NA(2)
Worldwide and throughout North America(5)
Species distribution maps in(2)(6)
Most species are restricted to open habitats such as stream edges, seashores, dirt roads, and sand dunes.
The larvae typically occur in the same habitat as the adults. The S-shaped larvae construct vertical burrows in the soil and anchor themselves with hooks located on the fifth abdominal segment
Larvae and adults feed on other arthropods.
The female selects a site, excavates a small hole up to 10 mm deep, deposits one egg, then fills in the hole (Fig. 1). Females are extremely specific about oviposition sites, and appear to favor damp soil. Once hatched, the larva (Fig. 2) digs a cylindrical burrow at the site, goes through three instars and expands the burrow as it grows. Depending on climate and food availability, the larval stage usually takes 2-3 years to complete.
Tiger beetles exhibit two general life cycle patterns:
SPRING-FALL SPECIES: adults emerge from pupae in the autumn and are active for a few weeks or longer, depending on the weather. As frosts occur and the weather cools, the adults hibernate for the winter, emerge from hibernation during the spring, mate and lay eggs, then usually die off. The newly hatched larvae dig burrows and hibernate for one or more winters. The mature larvae pupate during the summer and emerge as adults in the fall. Depending on the species, the life cycle generally takes 2 to 4 years to complete.
SUMMER SPECIES: adults emerge from pupae in the early summer and are active during the summer months. They mate and lay eggs during this time. Male may stay in contact with the female for a long time after actual mating in order to prevent further matings. Larvae hatch in fall, build burrows, and hibernate. This cycle generally takes 1 or 2 years to complete.
Fig. 1: Female ovipositing. Fig. 2: Larva (removed from its burrow)
Three US species are endangered (Cicindela ohlone
, Cicindela floridana
, and Ellipsoptera nevadica lincolniana
) and two species are threatened (Habroscelimorpha dorsalis dorsalis
and E. puritana
resemble miniature tiger beetles with embossed iridescent spots on elytra
Hamilton C.C. (1925) Studies on the morphology, taxonomy, and ecology of the larvae of Holarctic tiger-beetles (family Cicindelidae). Proc. U.S. National Mus. 65: 1-87, 12 pls. (Full text