Fun Facts about the Tiger Beetle
Sprinting at speeds most Olympic gold medalists can only dream about, the tiger beetles stalks their terrain looking for prey. Running so fast as to go blind, this fearsome predator relies on sheer speed to find enough food to eat. When in hot pursuit of its prey, this beetle is momentarily blinded. The beetle must stop, take in its surroundings, and take off again once spotting its next meal. With its prey in its mighty jaws, the tiger beetle feasts with the aid of some pretty strong digestive enzymes, so strong they can burn holes through the bug nets we try to trap them in. They grind up their food, swallow it all down, and spit up any undigested bits.
Tiger beetles can live for about two years. They are active during the day from spring though to fall, seeking refuge in the shadows during the hottest days of summer and must suffer through the coldest of winter’s days in the relative safety of their burrows.
- Order: Coleoptera
- Family: Carabidae
- Subfamily: Cicindelinae
- Genus: Cicindela
- Species: scutellaris
Metallic body, long antennae and legs and large mandibles
The beetle’s armored wings provide decent protection, but a burrow as refuge is its strongest means of defense against predation.
This tiger beetle can run ~120 body lengths per second. That’s 20 times faster than an Olympic sprinter.
Susan: Welcome to insect interviews, the show where you get to meet your favorite bugs, from your back yard to across the globe. I’m your host, Dr. Susan. Today WHOA!-
Susan: Whoa there Tony, slow down! Today we’re talking to Tony the Tiger beetle who hopefully stop running laps around the studio long enough to talk to us. TONY!
Zooooomm-(breaking screech noise)
Tony: Hey there, Dr. Susan, (pant). Man, I love to run!
Susan: Yea, I can see that. Why don’t you tell everyone a little about yourself?
Tony: Well, my name is Tony and I am a beetle. I’m the coolest of beetles actually, because I’m a Tiger Beetle.
Susan: That’s a pretty cool name! Why do you think they call you that?
Tony: Check out my tiger stripes man! But unlike a furry tiger, I have a metallic exoskeleton. That’s pretty cool. Plus I’m voracious, like a tiger. Grawr!
Susan: And fast like a tiger!
Tony: Oh, I’m the fastest! Do you wanna see me run, huh, huh? I like to ambush my prey, so I run out of my burrow really fast and grab them with my jaws.
Susan: Those jaws are impressive. I also noticed your eyes are huge!
Tony: Yup. You got to have good eyes to catch prey. But you know what?
Tony: I run so fast, I go blind!
Susan: Really? How do you ever find anything?
Tony: I see them, I bolt after them, and hope I get there before they get away. Sometimes I miss them (sigh). But I am also quick to find them again when I stop, and then I can take off running. I always catch them eventually.
Susan: So you like to run, what else do you do?
Tony: Well, I like to hang out in the sun. Did I mention running? I’m not sure if I mentioned running but I really do like to run.
Susan: Alright Tony, I won’t hold you up any longer. Let’s see how fast you can race out of the studio! On your mark, get set, go!
- Northeastern Tiger Beetles: A Field Guide to Tiger Beetles of New England and Eastern Canada by Jonathan Leonard
- Diary of a Citizen Scientist: Chasing Tiger Beetles and Other New Ways of Engaging the World by Sharman Russell
- Tiger Beetles: The Evolution, Ecology and Diversity of the Cicindelids by David Pearson
- Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity by Stephen Marshall