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Northeastern Beach Tiger Beetle

Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis

Northeastern beach tiger beetles mate in late June-August on sandy beaches. (Gene Nieminen/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Northeastern beach tiger beetles mate in late June-August on sandy beaches. (Gene Nieminen/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

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

Appearance:

  • Mostly sand-colored body
  • Shiny, bronze or greenish head and chest
  • White or light tan wing covers, often marked with fine, dark lines
  • Grows less than 1 inch long

Habitat:

  • Lives on light, sandy beaches
  • Active along the water’s edge during warm, sunny summer days

Range:

  • Lives along parts of the middle and lower Chesapeake Bay, from the Patuxent River to the mouth of the Bay

Feeding:

  • Feeds near the water’s edge
  • Aggressively preys upon flies, fleas and amphipods
  • 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:

  • Mates in late June-August
  • Females lay their eggs in the sand just above the high tide mark
  • Eggs hatch in late July-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.

Other Facts:

  • Also known as the white beach tiger beetle
  • It is difficult to get close to tiger beetles. When approached, they will quickly fly away.
  • 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:


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