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Six-spotted Tiger Beetle

Common Name: Six-spotted Tiger Beetle.

Scientific Name: Cicindela Sexguttata

What to look for?  Metallic green body! The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle is a small, bright green beetle. They have six white spots on the back of its elytra or the hard wing covers; hence, the name “six-spotted”. They have bulging purple-black eyes - like wearing dark goggles. They have powerful, sickle-shaped mandibles that are used to grab prey. Their bodies are elongated with long legs.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle is around from late spring into early summer. Around Carillon Stonegate Pond, they may appear around the walking paths. And, for the adventurist, these beetles may be found on woodland trails in Arlene Shoemaker forest preserve.

How big are they? Quite small! The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle is approximately one-half inch in length.

What are their flight patterns? Six-spotted Tiger Beetles can fly, but usually will only take off if startled and only fly a short distance. It is more common to find them walking.

How else do they behave? The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle is active with the ability to run and fly at fast speeds. They can also render a painful bite to humans, so one must be careful.

What’s for dinner? Insects - primarily! The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle feasts on a wide range of prey including ants, beetles, caterpillars, flies, grasshopper nymphs, insects, spiders, and even small terrestrial crustaceans.

Where do they take up residence? The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle lives throughout the eastern U.S., except the Gulf coast. Their habitat ranges from developed areas like backyards, parks, and gardens, to forests and meadows, but always near a woodland area.

When and where do they breed and nest? Remember the lifecycle of many insects: (1) eggs, (2) larval state, (3) pupa state, and (4) adulthood. The lifespan of an adult Six-spotted Tiger Beetle is only about six weeks. However, everything leading up to adulthood takes place over two to four years. Adults emerge from their burrows from June through August and mating begins soon after until the end of their short life. A female Six-spotted Tiger Beetle will lay up to 4 eggs daily in individual holes in the ground, covering the hole with sand or soil to discourage predators. The egg hatches and the underground larval stage begins. The larva resembles a caterpillar, but with two unique characteristics. First, there are two sickle-shaped jaws protruding from its abnormally large head, which it uses to catch prey. Second, they have hooks located on the back of their abdomen to anchor them to the side of the burrow, which prevents it from being pulled out of the ground by predators. It reaches the pupa stage a year later. The pupa will begin to dig its way out of the ground. Finally, the adult form of the beetle emerges within a month.

Where do they migrate? The Six-spotted Tiger Beetle does not migrate.

Do they make any interesting sounds? No.

Interesting Facts About the Six-spotted Tiger Beetle:

  • Like all beetles, tiger beetles have "complete" metamorphosis with egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages.

  • Of all the animal species on earth, approximately 40 percent of them are beetles.

  • There are around 2000 species of tiger beetles (Order: Coleoptera) worldwide and over 100 are found in North America.

  • The scientific community finds tiger beetles excellent models to research ecology, biology, morphology, thermoregulation, predator-prey interactions, biogeography, and physiology.

  • They can also render a painful bite to humans, so one must be careful not to make them feel threatened.

For more information on the Six-spotted Tiger Beetle and sources of information used in this blog (these are the several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Texas A&M University Horticultural Extension, University of Kentucky Entomology, Indiana DNR and Maryland MD Wildlife.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!

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