Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 30, 2016

Contact: Mollie Matteson, (802) 318-1487,

Cobblestone Tiger Beetle Closer to Endangered Species Act Protection in Northeast

Once Widespread Riverside Beetle Survives on Only 9 or 10 Rivers

RICHMOND, Vt.— The Center for Biological Diversity reached an agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today requiring the agency to make a decision about protecting cobblestone tiger beetles under the Endangered Species Act by Sept. 30, 2019. The beetles have been wiped out from much of their range due to changes in riverside habitat caused by dams, channelization and urbanization. They’re considered an indicator species of healthy riverside habitat.

Cobblestone tiger beetle
Photo by Giff Beaton. This photo is available for media use.

“The cobblestone tiger beetle is a tough little predator that’s ecologically important and deserves Endangered Species Act protection,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center. “Protecting this fascinating riparian beetle will also help protect the health of the streams and rivers where it lives, which is important for everyone.”

Once widespread across the eastern United States, the beetle now survives on only nine or 10 rivers. It is widely distributed from Alabama to Vermont, but highly localized, with most remaining populations being small and widely isolated, increasing the species’ risk of extinction. The beetle was first identified as being in need of federal protection in 1984. The Center petitioned for protection of the beetle in 2010. The Service determined in 2012 that the beetle may warrant protection, but has yet to make a required 12-month finding proposing or denying protection.

The tiger beetle is very habitat specific, living only on river islands and shorelines in pebble and cobblestone habitat patches with sparse vegetation. It is threatened by dams, altered hydrologic regimes, gravel mining, all-terrain vehicles, invasive plants, water pollution and aerial insecticide spraying.

Tiger beetles are so named because they are fast runners that chase down prey and capture them with their long mandibles, eating primarily ants and flies. Both adults and larvae are fierce predators. Active in summer, adults actively search for prey while larvae wait in shallow burrows for prey to pass during their two-year development period. The larvae plug their burrows in September and are dormant during the winter. The cobblestone tiger beetle is half an inch long, with a brown to olive-green, metallic-sheened shell with a scalloped white border.

Currently known populations are found on the Winooski River in Vermont, Connecticut River in New Hampshire and Vermont, Sciota River in Ohio, Delaware River in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Whitewater River in Indiana and Coosa River in Alabama.

Under the terms of a 2011 agreement with the Service, the Center can choose 10 species per year for expedited decisions on whether they should receive Endangered Species Act protection. The other nine priority species for 2016, with the years in which they will receive decisions, include the Northern Rockies fisher (2017), Barren’s topminnow (2017), beaverpond marstonia (2017), Canoe Creek pigtoe (2020), monarch butterfly (2019), California spotted owl (2019), alligator snapping turtle (2020), foothill yellow-legged frog (2020) and Virgin River spinedace (2021). Under the settlement 147 species have gained protection to date, and 35 species have been proposed for protection.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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