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Species Cicindela pulchra - Beautiful Tiger Beetle

Beautiful Tiger Beetle - Cicindela pulchra - female Cicindela pulchra pulchra - Cicindela pulchra - male Cicindela pulchra pulchra - Cicindela pulchra - male Cicindela pulchra pulchra, third instar at top of burrow - Cicindela pulchra Cicindela pulchra Cicindela pulchra pulchra - Cicindela pulchra - female Cicindela pulchra pulchra - Cicindela pulchra - female Cicindela pulchra pulchra - Cicindela pulchra - female
Classification
Kingdom Animalia (Animals)
Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)
Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods)
Class Insecta (Insects)
Order Coleoptera (Beetles)
Suborder Adephaga (Ground and Water Beetles)
Family Carabidae (Ground Beetles)
Subfamily Cicindelinae (Tiger Beetles)
Tribe Cicindelini (Flashy Tiger Beetles)
Genus Cicindela (Common Tiger Beetles)
Species pulchra (Beautiful Tiger Beetle)
Explanation of Names
Cicindela pulchra Say 1823
pulchra (L). 'beautiful'
Size
15-18 mm (1)
Identification
Most are metallic purple, but can be deep dull purple also. Maculation in Colorado can vary from a well defined middle band to no maculation at all. In Arizona/southern New Mexico the maculation is greatly expanded; these populations may be treated as subspecies C. pulchra dorothea.
Range
mainly New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas, plus portions of Wyoming, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona (see map)
Habitat
Found in desert/semi-arid environments usually where grasses and plants are patchy. Adults will often congregate on the sides of dirt roads and cow paths in these areas.
Larvae are found in these same open areas, often in hard packed clay soil that drains easily.
Season
A spring/fall species in Colorado, first appearing in early May to early June, then again from late August to the first cold spell usually about late September.
Food
They will eat pretty much anything they can wrestle down. I have noticed them eating C. punctulata, ants, small ground beetles, nymphs of grasshoppers, and other small insects.
Life Cycle
Overwinter as larvae with a 2 year life cycle. I find teneral adults in spring and have noted them mating in both spring and fall.
Remarks
When frightened they will fly 10-15 feet and land on open soil; if pursued they can fly long distances and will land in grasses. I have witnessed them fly over 20-30 feet into the air and then fly several hundred yards to land in a completely new area. Earlier in the morning they can be found sunning themselves in open areas and will typically not fly but run to avoid capture, or they might fly a very short distance (5-8 feet) and land in grasses.
The bright purple color of these beetles makes them easy to see when they are on open ground but if they run into shaded areas they can be very difficult to spot as the purple is a much darker shade when not in direct light.
The above is from personal experience with these beetles in Colorado. Much of the above can be very different in other states or even habitats. For example, C. pulchra dorothea in Arizona will only emerge after rains during the monsoon season, making it more of a summer species there. ~ Jeff Owens
Internet References
U. of Nebraska - Leon Higley
Works Cited
1.A Field Guide To The Tiger Beetles Of The United States And Canada
David Pearson, C. Barry Knisley, Charles J. Kazilek, David L. Pearson, Barry C. Knisley. 2005. Oxford University Press.