Punctured Tiger Beetle

The punctured tiger beetle, Cicindela punctulata, is common throughout North America and is primarily recognized by the twin lines of indentations on either side of its midline. It is also known as the sidewalk tiger beetle.

Tiger beetles are a group of more than 2,600 known species and subspecies living all over the world. They generally have large, round eyes, long, slender legs and some seriously businesslike mandibles. Some larger species (such as Manticora, in Africa), resemble rhinoceros beetles, with huge, horn-like jaws.

Both adults and larvae are predators. The larvae live in deep burrows, and use their large size and humped back to help capture prey. The fast-moving adults (the fastest known species of tiger beetle, Cicindela hudsoni, can run about 125 times its own body length per second — approximately 9 km/h or 2.5 m/s) chase down their prey, both on foot and while flying. They are said to have the same kind of reaction times as a housefly. (This one was almost impossible to spot, it was moving so fast.)

There is a bit of a kerfuffle about whether the proper name for this species is Cicindela or Cicindelidia, and frankly I’m not willing to argue either side. I’m unlikely to be forced at gunpoint to spell or pronounce either one, and either name looks just as good in front of punctulata.

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