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Cicindela hirticollis

What do they look like?

Adult hairy-necked tiger beetles are dull brown in color, and about 12 to 14 mm in length. Adults have hind wings that are transparent and they are folded under the elytra (hard wing covers) when at rest. Hairy-neck tiger beetles are usually well camouflaged in their environment. The color of a beetle usually matches the color of the soil of its habitat. These beetles get their name from the many hairs on the middle section of their body (the thorax) after they emerge from pupation, but they lose the hairs over time. Larvae are white with yellowish hues. (Brust, et al., 2005; Graves, et al., 1988; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Range length
    12 to 14 mm
    0.47 to 0.55 in

Where do they live?

Cicindela hirticollis, commonly called the hairy-necked tiger beetle, is found across North America. It has 11 subspecies, most of which live in much smaller areas. The subspecies Cicindela hirticollis hirticollis ranges from the southeast U.S. to New York state, and west to the southern Midwest. The subspecies Cicindela hirticollis rugifrons and Cicindela hirticollis rhodensis live in the New England states and the upper Midwest. Cicindela hirticollis siuslawensis is found along the pacific coast from central Washington to northern California. (Graves, et al., 1988; Pearson, et al., 2006)

What kind of habitat do they need?

These tiger beetles are typically found on sandy shorelines near rivers, lakes, and oceans. They live in burrows in the sand, which are usually dug a safe distance from the water to prevent them being covered in water. (Pearson, et al., 2006; Schlesinger and Novak, 2011)

How do they grow?

Hairy-necked tiger beetles have the life stages of egg, larva, pupa, and adult. This is called complete metamorphosis. In southern areas, the life cycle takes one year to complete, while in northern regions it can take up to 3 years. Eggs are laid in holes in the soil or sand. After they hatch, larvae dig burrows and live there as they develop. The larvae become pupae in the fall, and then the adults emerge and feed until winter arrives, when they go into hibernation for the winter. (Brust, et al., 2005; Gwiazdowski, et al., 2011; Pearson, et al., 2006; Schlesinger and Novak, 2011)

How do they reproduce?

There is little known about the mating habits of hairy-necked tiger beetles. Mating takes place in the spring after adults emerge in the spring from hibernating during the winter. Males have been known to guard their chosen female mates against other males, even when mating is over. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

After mating in the spring, females lay eggs. Females use a tube at the end of their body called an ovipositor to inject the eggs into holes in the ground. Each egg is injected into its own hole in moist, fine sand in shady areas. The eggs hatch in these holes and the larvae then live in them, which protects them from drying out. (Brust, et al., 2005; Cornelisse and Hafernik, 2009; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Breeding season
    Mating takes place in the spring.

Females put nutrients in the eggs to help the offspring develop. They also lay the eggs in holes in the sand that provide a safe environment for the egg and larvae. However, once the eggs are laid, the females leave and do not return. (Pearson, et al., 2006; Schlesinger and Novak, 2011)

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

How long do they live?

Larval development of hairy-necked tiger beetles alone can take 1 to 3 years. Adults live for about 10 months, from late fall to late summer of the next year, but over half of that time is spent hibernating during the winter. (Brust, et al., 2005; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 to 4 years

How do they behave?

These tiger beetles dig burrows in which they live and catch prey. Hairy-necked tiger beetles are ambush predators that sit at the opening of their burrows with their jaws open and bodies level with the ground surface. This helps to hide them. When prey moves past, they are grabbed with the jaws of the beetle and pulled into the burrow to be eaten.

Adult hairy-necked tiger beetles are active during the day, especially warm, sunny days. At night and on cloudy days, they go into their burrows. They can often be seen warming their bodies in the sun, or sitting in the shade if the temperature is too warm. (Brust, et al., 2005; Fenster and Knisley, 2006; Graves, et al., 1988; Pearson, et al., 2006)

How do they communicate with each other?

Hairy-necked tiger beetle larvae have very good vision that allows them to spot prey and see in three-dimensions.

What do they eat?

Both adults and larvae are predators, and prey upon a variety of arthropods, including insects, spiders, and small land crustaceans. Adults have also been known to eat parts of already dead organisms. (Cornelisse and Hafernik, 2009; Fenster and Knisley, 2006; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods

What eats them and how do they avoid being eaten?

Hairy-necked tiger beetles are preyed upon by a variety of invertebrates, including spiders, robber flies, and dragonflies, as well as larger animals including toads and lizards. To escape predators, they can run very quickly. Since they are also predators themselves, they are ferocious and could fight against predators, making it difficult to be eaten. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Parasitic wasps and flies can lay their eggs in the bodies of hairy-necked tiger beetle larvae. The parasite eggs hatch and kill the larvae as they eat the body. Hairy-necked tiger beetles are also prey to many vertebrate and invertebrate predators. These beetles themselves are significant predators of many species. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

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

Do they cause problems?

Hairy-necked tiger beetles do not cause any problems for humans.

How do they interact with us?

Hairy-necked tiger beetles have been seen eating some pest species of insects, such as aphids. By feeding on these pest insects, they reduce damage to crops and other plant species that humans may use. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • controls pest population

Are they endangered?

Hairy-necked tiger beetles are not an endangered species, however many of their populations across the country are decreasing. The government has named it a species of concern. Their sandy habitats, near lakes and beaches, are being disturbed by people and their recreational activities. Walking and motor vehicles crush and kill the larvae in their burrows in the ground. To prevent this species from dying out, people should be kept out of their habitats. (Cornelisse and Hafernik, 2009; Pearson, et al., 2006; Schlesinger and Novak, 2011)

Some more information...

There are 11 recognized subspecies of Cicindela hirticollis. (Graves, et al., 1988)


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


Brust, M., W. Hoback, K. Skinner, C. Knisley. 2005. Differential Immersion Survival by Populations of Cicindela hirticollis (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 98: 973-979.

Cornelisse, T., J. Hafernik. 2009. Effects of soil characteristics and human disturbance on tiger beetle oviposition. Ecological Entomology, 34/4: 495-503.

Fenster, M., C. Knisley. 2006. Impact of dams on point bar habitat: A case for the extirpation of the Sacramento Valley Tiger Beetle, C. hirticollis abrupta. River Research and Applications, 22/8: 881-904.

Graves, R., M. Krejci, A. Graves. 1988. Geographic variation in the North American tiger beetle Cicindela hirticollis Say, with a description of five new subspecies (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). Canadian Entomologist, 120: 647-678.

Gwiazdowski, R., S. Gillespie, R. Weddle, J. Elkinton. 2011. Laboratory Rearing of Common and Endangered Species of North American Tiger Beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Cicindelidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 104: 534-542.

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 Cicindelidae. New York, New York, USA: Oxford University Press.

Schlesinger, M., P. Novak. 2011. Status and conservation of an imperiled tiger beetle fauna in New York State, USA. Journal of Insect Conservation, 15/6: 839-852.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Denelsbeck, J. 2014. "Cicindela hirticollis" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 13, 2024 at

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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