NATURAL HISTORY

NORTHEASTERN BEACH TIGER BEETLE } Cicindela dorsalis dorsalis

FAMILY: Carabidae

DESCRIPTION: The northeastern beach tiger beetle is a sand-colored terrestrial beetle measuring about .5 to .6 inches in length. Adults have a green-bronze head and thorax, paired dark markings on their cream-colored forewings, large pinching jaws, and long legs that allow for fast movements pursuing prey.

HABITAT: Unaltered ocean and estuarine beaches; beaches that support beach tiger beetles normally have significant sand dunes or beach grass areas above the high-tide line that are capable of being burrowed into without collapsing.

RANGE: Massachusetts to Maryland

MIGRATION: The species is not known to migrate.

BREEDING: Adults usually emerge for the first time in late June, reach peak abundance by mid-July, and decline through early September. Mating and egg-laying occur during this period. Most adults die after breeding, but a small percentage that emerge late in the summer and do not successfully breed may hibernate for an extra year to breed the following year.

LIFE CYCLE: Northeastern beach tiger beetles have a two-year life cycle. Mating and egg-laying occur during the summer months. Females deposit their eggs in the sand in beach dunes above the high tide line. Eggs hatch and larvae appear in late July and August. Larvae experience three developmental stages and will overwinter as larvae twice before becoming adults. Each spring, larvae pupate within burrows that they have constructed, emerging as larger larvae before finally emerging as adults in the third year. By November, larvae become inactive and hibernate high up above the high tide line to avoid being drowned in winter storm events.

FEEDING: Prey species include lice, fleas and flies. Adults also occasionally scavenge dead crabs and fish.

THREATS: The greatest threats facing the northeastern beach tiger beetle are habitat destruction, pollution and sea-level rise.

POPULATION TREND: This species is declining.

Northeastern beach tiger beetle photo courtesy USFWS