Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle

Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Lives on light, sandy beaches and is active along the water’s edge during warm, sunny summer days.

  • Range

    Found along parts of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay, from the Patuxent River to the mouth of the Bay.

  • Diet

    Preys upon flies, fleas and amphipods; will also eat dead crabs and fish

  • Lifespan

    Up to 2 years

  • Status

    Threatened

The northeastern beach tiger beetle is a tiny, sand-colored beetle that lives on sandy beaches throughout the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay.

Appearance

The northeastern beach tiger beetle has a mostly sand-colored body, with a shiny, bronze or greenish head and chest. It has white or light tan wing covers, often marked with fine, dark lines. It grows to less than 1 inch in length.

Feeding

Northeastern beach tiger beetles feed near the water’s edge. They aggressively prey upon flies, fleas and amphipods, and will also eat dead crabs and fish that wash up on the beach.

Predators

Larvae are preyed upon by parasitic, ant-like wasps, which paralyze the larvae and lay their eggs on them.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Beetles mate in late June through August. Females lay their eggs in the sand just above the high tide mark. Eggs hatch in late July through August. Larvae live in vertical burrows in the sand. They keep their head at a right angle at the burrow entrance to camouflage it and watch for prey. Larvae have two hooks on their abdomen. They dig the hooks into the sides of their burrow so they won’t be pulled out of the burrow when they latch on to prey. Larvae molt and burrow deeper as they develop into adults. They usually leave the burrow approximately two years after they hatched.

Did You Know?

  • It is difficult to get close to tiger beetles; when approached, they will quickly fly away.
  • Northeastern beach tiger beetles are classified as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act. Tiger beetles have lost habitat due to development, population growth and increased beach use.

Sources and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Habitat

    Lives on light, sandy beaches and is active along the water’s edge during warm, sunny summer days.

  • Range

    Found along parts of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay, from the Patuxent River to the mouth of the Bay.

  • Diet

    Preys upon flies, fleas and amphipods; will also eat dead crabs and fish

  • Lifespan

    Up to 2 years

  • Status

    Threatened