I found this species in a small patch of bare ground along a steep bank. Dozens of beetles scattered before me as I walked into this area. As with other groups of organisms, there are species of tiger beetles that disperse readily to take advantage of newly created habitat and there are those that are tied to a specific type of habitat and do not readily colonize new locations. Species of the latter type are usually on the list of rarities. Finding these rare species is supportive evidence of the historic presence of the habitat you see on the site today.
Tiger Beetles are predators that actively pursue their prey. These were actively running around, grabbing some type of tiny insects off of the bare ground. It wasn’t necessary to go chasing after these guys to get within camera range. I just crouched in one spot and waited for them to come by. Sometimes I used my walking stick to herd them my way. The text describes this as an easy Tiger Beetle to approach and my experience supports that. Of course, I haven’t had a lot of experience in stalking Tiger Beetles, so I don’t have much basis for comparison.
There is a lot of similarity between species in the basic pattern of markings on the back of the Tiger Beetles. In some species, such as this one, individual patterning can be quite variable. By looking at the individual markings, I could easily have imagined several species of Tiger Beetles running around in front of me. The defining character in this case is the reddish abdomen that can be seen just below the wing coverings.
I kept waiting for this beetle to attack the leafhopper, but it never even seemed aware of the leafhoppers presence. I wonder if there is a factor in the beetle’s instinctive prey image that makes it disregard anything in excess of a certain size.
What I would really like to see is a Tiger Beetle larva. I’ve seen pictures and preserved specimens, but I’ve never encountered a live larva. I saw several holes that seemed the proper size for larva burrows, but saw no larval activity. This species is described as normally having a one year life cycle, so I suppose, given the abundance of adults, this is not the time of year to be looking for larvae.