NATURAL HISTORY

PURITAN BEACH TIGER BEETLE } Cicindela puritans

FAMILY: Carabidae

DESCRIPTION: The Puritan tiger beetle is medium-sized (11.5mm in length for males and 12.4mm in length for females) and long-legged, and is most recognizable from its cream-colored markings on an otherwise bronze-brow to green back.

HABITAT: Bluffs and small cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay and the shores of the Connecticut River. The two populations of this species are believed to have been separated for thousands of years and have developed significant genetic and ecological differences, but both populations require soil conditions that facilitate the ability of the tiger beetles to build burrows for sheltering and hunting.

RANGE: Chesapeake Bay and the Connecticut River in Connecticut and Massachusetts.

MIGRATION: The species is not known to migrate.

BREEDING:? Adult Puritan tiger beetles are usually detected beginning in late June when they first emerge to feed and mate. Most mating occurs between mid-July through mid-August, when the adults start to die off. Along the Chesapeake Bay, the females move up onto the cliffs to deposit their eggs after mating. Along the Connecticut River, females place their eggs just below the surface of the sand among scattered plants

LIFE CYCLE: Puritan tiger beetles have a two-year life cycle. After about a week of development, eggs hatch in July or August. The larvae dig a burrow and sit at its top, waiting to catch prey that walk across the burrow entrance. After 2-4 weeks, the larvae molt into a slightly larger second stage. By late October, these second-stage larvae close their burrows and hibernate. In April, the immature beetles open their burrows and hunt for prey for a few months, then close their burrows again until early September, when they molt to the third and final larval stage. These larvae remain active until late fall when they close their burrows for their second winter. The following spring, the immature beetles feed until about June, when they pupate and transform into adults. The adult beetles mate and then die, starting over the cycle.

FEEDING: Prey species amphipods, beach arthropods, flies, lice and fleas.

THREATS: The greatest threats facing the northeastern beach tiger beetle are habitat destruction, pollution, and pesticide use.

POPULATION TREND: This species is declining.

Puritan tiger beetle by Chris Wirth, USFWS