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Saturday, June 30, 2007

Go Get 'Em, Tiger

My very first tiger beetle and I found it in a completely unexpected place -- on the sidewalk outside my house. Here I am, ready to travel all the way to the Great Sand Dunes National Park to see a rare and elusive beetle and there's one skipping merrily down my sidewalk.

Kai and I were walking home from a dragonfly watching expedition at our local mosquito infested, lawn water runoff wetlands. I was pushing Jasmine in the stroller. Rowan had ridden his bike ahead and was about to miss one of the coolest bugs I'd ever seen. Something darted from the sidewalk into the adjoining lawn and I came to a dead stop. I still had my camera around my neck, but with my the telephoto lens on.

After a few seconds of staring, I realized what it was and cursed the luck that Rowan wasn't there to see it. Kai grabbed me my lens bag and I hoped it wouldn't fly away while I switched to the macro lens. The tiger was wary and a very fast runner, but didn't fly. It may have had a damaged flying wing; one of its elytra (would the singular be elytrum?) was broken at the rear tip.

I thought about catching it, but we have a gazillion pets right now, so I let that thought skitter away. Instead I kept clicking away at the camera shutter and the beetle held still, perhaps sensing that I was insane but mostly harmless. Kai grew bored and Jasmine restless, so I finally decided to pack it up and get home.

I'm such a geek, I've been looking at these pictures since I got home. Check out those chompers!

For those of you Latin fans, the order is Coleoptera (beetles), it's in the subfamily Cicindelinae of the family of ground beetles, Carabidae. I think it may be related to the six-spotted sexguttata species, but I'm still awaiting word from the good folks at the Bug Guide.

Post Script:
The word is that it's a sidewalk tiger beetle or Cicindela punctulata. For more info see:

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