Tiger beetle

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Tiger beetle
Lophyra sp Tiger beetle edit1.jpg
Lophyra sp in Tanzania
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Arthropoda
Class:Insecta
Order:Coleoptera
Suborder:Adephaga
Family:Carabidae
Subfamily:Cicindelinae
Latreille, 1802
Tribes

Cicindelini
Collyridini
Manticorini
Megacephalini

Synonyms

Cicindelidae Latreille, 1802

 
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Tiger beetle
Lophyra sp Tiger beetle edit1.jpg
Lophyra sp in Tanzania
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Arthropoda
Class:Insecta
Order:Coleoptera
Suborder:Adephaga
Family:Carabidae
Subfamily:Cicindelinae
Latreille, 1802
Tribes

Cicindelini
Collyridini
Manticorini
Megacephalini

Synonyms

Cicindelidae Latreille, 1802

Tiger beetles are a large group of beetles known for their aggressive predatory habits and running speed. The fastest species of tiger beetle can run at a speed of 9 km/h (5.6 mph), which, relative to its body length, is about 22 times the speed of former Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson,[1] the equivalent of a human running at 480 miles per hour (770 km/h). As of 2005, about 2,600 species and subspecies were known, with the richest diversity in the Oriental (Indo-Malayan) region, followed by the Neotropics.[2]

Cicindela aurofasciata from India, showing the large eyes and mandibles

Description[edit]

Tiger beetles often have large bulging eyes, long, slender legs and large curved mandibles. All are predatory, both as adults and as larvae. The genus Cicindela has a cosmopolitan distribution. Other well-known genera include Tetracha, Omus, Amblycheila and Manticora. While members of the genus Cicindela are usually diurnal and may be out on the hottest days, Tetracha, Omus, Amblycheila and Manticora are all nocturnal. Both Cicindela and Tetracha are often brightly colored, while the other genera mentioned are usually uniform black in color.

Tiger beetles in the genus Manticora are the largest in size of the subfamily. These live primarily in the dry regions of southern Africa.

Most tiger beetles run on the ground living on sand and lake shores

The larvae of tiger beetles live in cylindrical burrows as much as a meter deep. They are large-headed, hump-backed grubs that flip backwards to capture prey insects that wander over the ground. The fast-moving adults run down their prey and are extremely fast on the wing, their reaction times being of the same order as that of common houseflies. Some tiger beetles in the tropics are arboreal, but most run on the surface of the ground. They live along sea and lake shores, on sand dunes, around playa lakebeds and on clay banks or woodland paths, being particularly fond of sandy surfaces.[3]

Tiger beetles are considered a good indicator species and have been used in ecological studies on biodiversity. Several species of wingless parasitic wasps in the genus Methocha (family Tiphiidae), lay their eggs on larvae of various Cicindela spp., such as Cicindela dorsalis.[4]

Adaptations[edit]

Tiger beetles are so fast that they go blind while running, partly because their eyes are not able to gather enough photons to form an image during high speed and partly because the visual information is coming in faster than their brain can process, which is the reason for their stop and start movements, as they need to stop now and then for a few milliseconds to relocate their prey and surroundings.[1] To avoid obstacles while running they hold their antennae rigidly and directly in front of them to mechanically sense their environment.[5]

Systematics[edit]

Museum specimen of Manticora sp. from Mozambique.
The rare Salt Creek tiger beetle, Cicindela nevadica lincolniana

Tiger beetles were traditionally classified as the family Cicindelidae but most authorities now treat them as the subfamily Cicindelinae of the Carabidae (ground beetles). The most recent classifications, however, have relegated them to a monophyletic subgroup within the subfamily Carabinae, though this is not yet universally accepted. Accordingly, there is no consensus classification for this group, at any level from family down to subspecies, and it can be exceedingly difficult to decipher the taxonomic literature surrounding this group.

Very many were described by the German entomologist Walther Horn. The genera of tiger beetles include:[6]

Many of the genera result from the splitting of the large genus Cicindela.

Cicindela chinensis

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cornell News, Jan. 16, 1998 When tiger beetles chase prey at high speeds they go blind temporarily, Cornell entomologists learn
  2. ^ Pearson, D.L. & F. Cassola, 2005
  3. ^ Werner, K. 2000
  4. ^ Burdick, D.J. and Wasbauer, M.S. 1959. Biology of Methocha californica Westwood (Hymenoptera: Tiphiidae). Wasmann Jour. Biol. 17:75-88. Department of Environmental Conservation
  5. ^ Blinded by speed, tiger beetles use antennae to 'see' while running
  6. ^ "Cicindelinae Latreille, 1802". Carabidae of the World. 2011. Retrieved 28 Jun 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]