Natural Enemies Are Our Friends

Our six-spotted Tiger Beetle, Cicindela sexguttata, is common along sunny paths and gardens in the late Spring. Cicindela sexguttata, is easily identified by its iridescent metallic green color and 6 brownish spots on its elytra (forewings). Tiger Beetles have keen detection of movement. The beetles commonly land on the ground and fly away as they are approached. A stealthy approach and a quick sweep of a net is required to capture one.

Tiger Beetles are voracious predators that quickly run down their prey like “Tigers of the Mini-Jungle”. Many Tiger Beetles feed on ants and other slow moving insects. The tips of the mandibles are sharp and sword-like. The Tiger Beetle uses these mouthparts to puncture its prey. The larvae are also predators. However, larvae do not run down their prey. Rather, they build tunnels and await unwary insects to come within range of their lethal jaws.

Tiger Beetles are terrors for many of the small insects that roam the earth. However, many of those insects are pests. Tiger Beetles are classified as “Natural Enemies” of pest insects. The Proverb states, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Therefore, Natural Enemies of insects (like the Tiger Beetle) are our friends.

Tiger Beetles Have Sword-like Mandibles

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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