NATURAL HISTORY

MIAMI TIGER BEETLE }Cicindela floridana
FAMILY: Carabidae

DESCRIPTION: The Miami tiger beetle is small ?? less than .4 inches long. Its shell is a shiny metallic green, with some individuals appearing copper colored.

HABITAT: The Miami tiger beetle is found only in small, sandy pockets of pine rockland habitat in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Pine rocklands are characterized by limestone outcrops, Florida slash pine as the sole canopy species, and a diverse understory of scrubs and herbs. Adults and larvae have been observed in patches of bare ground in this habitat in 21.5?64.5 square feet. Soil sampled where specimens were observed was sandy to loamy sand.

RANGE: Cicindela scabrosa is widely found throughout Florida, as far south as Collier County on the West Coast and St. Lucie County on the East Coast. But Miami tiger beetles, Cicindela floridana, have always only been known from Miami, with their exact historic localities unclear. 1934 specimens were collected in the vicinity of Gratigny Road in sandy hammocks or near Barry College, where no apparent habitat currently exists. In 2007 a Miami tiger beetle population was discovered at a pine rockland site in the Richmond Heights area of Miami, Florida. Its current known range consists of three sites within the Richmond Heights area of Miami: Metrozoo pineland, the University of Miami CSTARS campus, and U.S. Coast Guard land. The highest counts at each of the sites ranged from 2 two to 45 adults.

BREEDING: Little is known about the Miami tiger beetle?s breeding. Adults are active May through October.

LIFE CYCLE: Tiger beetles generally have a lifespan of several weeks to two months.

FEEDING: Little is known about this species? diet, but it has been observed darting after and feeding upon ants.

THREATS:This species is threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation due to development of its pine rocklands habitat to agricultural and urban land uses, insufficient fire management, climate change, and sea-level rise; its habitat is imminently threatened by a proposed shopping mall and theme park. Pine rocklands are a globally endangered plant community, with only two percent of pre-settlement era pine rocklands remaining. The primary cause of destruction was significant ecological degradation and conversion of the habitat to other land uses.

POPULATION TREND: The population trend for this insect is not concretely known. However, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regards the Miami tiger beetle as a species of concern, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regards it as a species of greatest conservation need. It has been recommended for state and federal listing by at least one expert. The Miami tiger beetle is currently only known from three locations, with each site supporting 2-45 adults. A 2014 study designates the Miami tiger beetle one of the two most threatened tiger beetles in the United States.

In addition, 2010 survey of larvae at the beetle?s Metrozoo site produced 63 larval burrows. A 2011 repeat survey produced only five larvae. Recent surveys indicate that populations may be declining due to vegetation encroachment.

Photo ? Chris Wirth, https://cicindela.wordpress.com