Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Day 204 - Beauty of the Mini-beasts - part 8 - Green Tiger Beetle

Hey everyone, its Day 204 and I thought I'd do another episode of the Beauty of the Mini-beasts. Today's critter I found when walking around the forests on the west side of the North York Moors, a place where I often go to check on the progress of the tadpoles that hatched in a little muddy puddle (they're doing fine at the moment!). This little critter was off for a walk along the same path as me and was happy for me to grab lots of photos. It's quite a big and lovely beetle, today I'm looking at the Green Tiger Beetle.

Green Tiger Beetle (Cicindela campestris)
So what did I find out about this little chap?
  • They like to live on heathland and sandy banks and you can find them over most of the UK.
  • They are between 10-15mm long.
  • The tiger bit of this beetles name comes from its hunting habits, it will chase down its prey and crush it in its powerful mandibles.
  • It's one of our fastest insects, it's long legs help it to run quick quickly. If disturbed it will also fly off a little way before running off.
  • They will eat spiders, caterpillars and ants which they can easily eat with their big powerful mandibles.
  • You can see them as adults from April to September mostly on sunny days on sandy ground without much vegetation.
Beetle eye view - maybe that's a bit too big a prey item?
  • Bare ground and sunshine are important. This beetle likes sun and its probably because a warm insect can move faster, helping it to hunt. Bare ground also warms up faster in the sun and this helps the larvae to grow quicker.
  • They breed in the summer and the eggs are laid in burrows in the ground where they hatch an the larvae feed and burrow.
  • They also hunt when they are in the larval stage and will dig a burrow on paths as a pitfall trap for other insects.
  • The larvae also have strong mandibles and once something falls into the trap they grab it and pull it into the burrow to eat it.
  • An extra little feature they have is a spine on their back which helps to anchor them into their burrow.
  • They aren't completely safe in their burrows though. A very slender little wasp manages not to get crushed by the mandibles. It will sting the larvae, paralyse it and then lay an egg in the larvae. This then hatches and it has its own food source and burrow!
What an interesting beetle, and if it wasn't for the Wasp they have a great life sunbathing and eating! If you want to find out more try these links;

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous beetles! Amazing photos as always Zach! - Tasha