Tiger beetles are part of the “Cicindelidae”family and are recognized for their predatory habits, swift actions,large pointed mandibles and long spindly legs. There are 2000 species of tiger beetles worldwide and over 100 are found in North America.These species are very active and alert, and they run rapidly over the ground apart from other beetles and are closely related to ground beetles.
Tiger beetle species can be determined by the pattern and extend of their dorsal markings. Tigers come in an array of colors, and some species colors vary by soil and sometimes geography. Markings on a specific local population can vary as well. Common species of beetles seem almost camouflaged, blending in with their habitat. They are grayish brown to black with white spots and markings on their broad. These species have wing covers called “elytra,” which protects the membranous wings beneath.Beetle mouthparts are meant for biting and chewing with well developed mandibles. The three pairs of legs in a beetle species are for swimming, digging grasping or other activities. The colors of other species can range from green and violent to greyish black. The average size of a tiger beetle is about 1/2 an inch, but it also depends on the type of species. The adult tiger beetle is about one-half inch long and is easily identified by the hairs on its face. They have large compound eyes, and pointed mandibles. The antennae are inserted on the frons above the clypeus and below the eyes. The tarsi is five-segmented.
Tiger beetles can be found in many land and fresh water habitats. They are often found in logs or under bark as well as in fungi or mud. They may be found storming around in a decaying plant and animal matter. Sometimes you can find them in termite nests, or water. Many beetles in particular live underground or decaying leaf litter. Other species may be found under rocks.
Like all beetles tiger beetles have complete metamorphosis with egg,larva, pupa and adult. Repeated mating begins soon after adults emerge from their burrows (June through August).Female tiger beetles place eggs into small holes dug into soil. They can lay about 3-4 eggs per day with several other males attempting to mate with her. The larvae of tiger beetles hatch from eggs and dig burrows in the soil. Larvae’s main occupation is feeding.
Tiger beetles use their powerful jaws to prey on insects. Tiger beetles prey on a wide range of ants,flies,grasshoppers,nymphs,spiders and even on other beetles. The larvae, like the adults are predators. They live in tunnels in the dry soil and pop out to grab their prey. They use their strong jaws while anchoring themselves with hooks located on their abdominal segment. The tiger beetle first waits for its prey, and then lunges its target like a fierce tiger. Tiger beetles trap their prey between their strong mandibles and they devour them on the spot.