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Cicindela fulgida

What do they look like?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles are around 9 to 13 mm long. Along their wing covers they have three different half-moon shaped markings known as maculations. These maculations can be used to identify subspecies. Most of these beetles are a shade of red, but some may also be green, brown, blue, or purple. Adults have large mouthparts called mandibles and large eyes. They have long, thin legs used for quick movement.

Subspecies Cicindela fulgida fulgida adults are a bright coppery red color with three white maculations, and as they age their color begins to darken. The middle maculation is bent and runs parallel to the edge of the wing cover.

The adults of C. fulgida westbournei are very similar in appearance to C. fulgida fulgida. Some of this subspecies may be purple, blue, or dark green.

Adults of the subspecies C. fulgida rumpii are smaller than other subspecies and have large maculations that can cover over half of the wing covers.

Subspecies C. fulgida psuedowillistoni is a dark reddish color, but can range from brown to blue to green. The middle maculation is bent, but does not run parallel to the edge of the wing cover.

Crimson saltflat tiger beetle larvae are white and looks like grubs. The part of their body that sticks out of their burrows is the same color as the soil. The larvae have large mandibles and large eyes. They have two hooks on the fifth segment of their lower body. ("Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, fulgida subspecies", 2013; "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies", 2013; Brust, et al., 2005; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Range length
    9 to 13 mm
    0.35 to 0.51 in

Where do they live?

The crimson saltflat tiger beetle, Cicindela fulgida, is found from parts of southern Canada in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, throughout the midwestern United States, and as far south as Texas and New Mexico. This tiger beetle species has 3 subspecies. The subspecies Cicindela fulgida westbournei has been found in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota. The subspecies C. fulgida fulgida has been found in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. The subspecies C. fulgida psuedowillistoni has been found in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. The subspecies C. fulgida rumpii has only been found in New Mexico. (Brust, et al., 2005; Pearson, et al., 2006)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles live in habitats that have few plants and moist salt flats. The areas where these beetles can be found are around lakes, ponds, rivers, streams, and shallow roadside ditches. ("Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, fulgida subspecies", 2013; "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies", 2013; Pearson, et al., 2006)

How do they grow?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles develop through complete metamorphosis. This means they have four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The life cycle starts when an adult beetle lays its eggs in May. After the eggs hatch, the larvae burrow into the ground. Some may stay in these burrows as larvae for up to two years. During their larval stage, they go through several stages called instars. When the larvae reach the third instar stage, they become pupae and go into hibernation for the winter. It's not until next spring or summer that the pupae come out of hibernation, and eventually adult beetles emerge in August. The adults are active and eat food until winter arrives again, and the adults go into hibernation. Adults emerge again in April to mate and lay eggs, and then die off by the end of July. ("Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, fulgida subspecies", 2013; "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies", 2013; Brust, et al., 2005; Lavallee, 2010)

How do they reproduce?

Adult crimson saltflat tiger beetles mate in spring shortly after emerging from hibernation. Males perform a behavior during mating called mate guarding. The male guards his female mate against other males by grasping onto her back with his mandibles. The male will stay with her after mating as well to continue to keep other males away. ("National Audobon Society: Field Guide to Insects and Spiders", 2000; "Tiger Beetles of the United States", 2013)

There is not much known about what these tiger beetles do after mating. They lay their eggs in May, and like other tiger beetle species, they probably lay the eggs under plants and on the soil. This way the larvae can burrow into the soil just after hatching. ("National Audobon Society: Field Guide to Insects and Spiders", 2000; "Tiger Beetles of the United States", 2013; Lavallee, 2010)

  • Breeding season
    Mating and oviposition occur in April and May.

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles provide nutrients in their eggs for the offspring to grow and develop. They also probably lay their eggs in safe spots on the soil, so the larvae can burrow into the soil right after hatching. However, once the beetles lay the eggs, they leave and do not give any more care. ("National Audobon Society: Field Guide to Insects and Spiders", 2000; "Tiger Beetles of the United States", 2013)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female

How long do they live?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles live for about 10 months as adults after emerging from pupation. However, for about 7 of these months, they are hibernating for the winter, so they are really only active for about 3 or 4 months of the year. Before becoming adults, they can stay as larvae for up to 2 years. (Lavallee, 2010)

  • Average lifespan
    Status: wild
    10 months

How do they behave?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles are ferocious predators. To catch prey, they either sit and wait in shady areas to ambush prey, or can actively hunt for prey. They spot prey with their large eyes and then quickly sprint towards it. These beetles are able to run so fast that they are not able to see! So when they run, they have to stop every so often to see their prey again, and then run after it again. Once they catch their prey, they grind it up. They can make short flights when something bothers them.

Larvae are also predators. They sit and wait in their burrows for prey items to pass by. When prey passes by, larvae reach out and grab it with their large mandibles. Larvae also have two hooks on their body that keep them anchored in their burrows while grabbing prey. When threatened by a predator, larvae can retreat into their burrows and wait until the threat goes away. ("Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, fulgida subspecies", 2013; "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies", 2013; Macrae, 2011; Pearson, et al., 2006)

How do they communicate with each other?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetle adults and larvae have large eyes that give them excellent vision that help them track down prey as well as see predators. Larvae can also detect vibrations while in their burrows, to determine if predators or prey are nearby. During mating, mates communicate with touch, as the male holds the female with his mandibles and does not let go. ("Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, fulgida subspecies", 2013; "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies", 2013; Pearson, et al., 2006)

What do they eat?

Both the larvae and adults of the crimson saltflat tiger beetles are predators that eat insects, including other tiger beetles, and other arthropods. ("Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, fulgida subspecies", 2013; "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies", 2013; "Tiger Beetles of the United States", 2013; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Predators of crimson saltflat tiger beetles include spiders, robber flies, dragon flies, toads, lizards, and birds. As larvae they are often attacked by bee fly parasites, as well as prey for many different types of wasps. As predators themselves, they fight back against predators and defend themselves. Tiger beetles are also very quick runners, and are able to outrun other predators. ("Tiger Beetles of the United States", 2013)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles are important to their ecosystem. As many organisms prey upon these beetles, they are an important part of the food chain. They are also significant predators themselves, and eat a variety of invertebrate prey. Tiger beetle larvae are also used as hosts by bee fly parasites. Since these tiger beetles live in special alkaline (basic pH) habitats, if their population starts to decrease or change, that is a good sign that something in their habitat has also changed. ("Tiger Beetles of the United States", 2013)

Commensal or parasitic species (or larger taxonomic groups) that use this species as a host

Do they cause problems?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles do not cause any problems for humans.

How do they interact with us?

People enjoy looking for and collecting crimson saltflat tiger beetles, because they have bright, pretty colors, are fast runners, and are ferocious predators. Scientists also use them in studies about predator-prey relationships, ecology, genetics, and other topics. ("Tiger Beetles of the United States", 2013; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • research and education

Are they endangered?

Crimson saltflat tiger beetles are considered endangered in Minnesota. This is because they only live in specific saltflat habitats, so any changes to the habitat can cause their population to significantly decrease. In the rest of the United States, these beetles are not considered an endangered species. ("Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, fulgida subspecies", 2013; "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies", 2013; "Tiger Beetles of the United States", 2013)

Some more information...

There are four recognized subspecies of the species Cicindela fulgida. They are Cicindela fulgida fulgida, Cicindela fulgida westbournei, Cicindella fulgida psuedowillistoni, and Cicindela fulgida rumpii. All species have the same common name. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

Contributors

Zachary Olson (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.

References

2000. National Audobon Society: Field Guide to Insects and Spiders. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc..

2013. "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, fulgida subspecies" (On-line). Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Accessed March 28, 2013 at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=IICOL023G6.

2013. "Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies" (On-line). Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Accessed March 28, 2013 at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/rsg/profile.html?action=elementDetail&selectedElement=IICOL023G1.

2013. "Tiger Beetles of the United States" (On-line). Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. Accessed March 28, 2013 at http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/distr/insects/tigb/intro.htm.

Brust, M., S. Spomer, W. Hoback. 2005. "Tiger beetles of Nebraska" (On-line). Accessed March 28, 2013 at http://www.unk.edu (Version 5APR2005).

Lavallee, S. 2010. "COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Wallis’ Dark Saltflat Tiger Beetle" (On-line pdf). Accessed April 28, 2013 at http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2011/ec/CW69-14-587-2010-eng.pdf.

Macrae, T. 2011. "Diversity in Teger Beetle Larval Burrows" (On-line). Beetles in the Bush. Accessed March 28, 2013 at http://beetlesinthebush.wordpress.com/2011/01/13/diversity-in-tiger-beetle-larval-burrows/.

Pearson, D., C. Knisley, C. Kazilek. 2006. A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada: Identification, Natural History, and Distribution of the Cicindelidea. 198 madison Avenue, New York, New York 10016: Oxford Univeristy Press, Inc.

 
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Olson, Z. 2014. "Cicindela fulgida" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 20, 2017 at http://www.biokids.umich.edu/accounts/Cicindela_fulgida/

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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