Bug Spotlight!

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U.C. Riverside
Department of Entomology
Photo by: Greg Ballmer©
The Greenest Tiger Beetle Cicindela tranquebarica viridissima (family Carabidae, subfamily Cicindelinae) by Greg Ballmer and Dave Hawks 

Most tiger beetles are fast moving, diurnal predators often found along the shores of rivers, lakes, and estuaries.  On warm days, tiger beetles are active and alert, running swiftly and engaging in short low flights in pursuit of insect prey.  At night and during cold or inclement weather, tiger beetles seek shelter by burrowing into the soil.  Tiger beetle larvae also are predaceous and live in vertical burrows in the soil from which they partially emerge to seize passing insects with their large, sickle-like mandibles.  Many tiger beetle species are iridescent or metallic red, green, blue, or purple, while others are plain brown or black.  Most species also have whitish markings on their elytra. The Greenest Tiger Beetle is a highly localized subspecies of the widespread species, C. tranquebarica.  It occurs only along the Santa Ana River adjacent to Riverside and near Bautista Creek in Hemet .  Formerly, the range was much greater, extending along the Santa Ana River from Orange County upstream to Mentone, and possibly along the San Jacinto River as well.  Adults emerge in September and October and actively hunt small insects during the warm days of fall.  They spend most of the winter underground, and then these same individuals re-emerge to hunt and reproduce during warm days in March, April, and May.  As its name implies, this subspecies is just about the brightest green of the many subspecies of C. tranquebarica found throughout most of North America .  Other subspecies of C. tranquebarica are green, blue, reddish, brown, or nearly black, and also vary in terms of the whitish patterns on the elytra.  

©2006  ERM-UC Riverside