This is another one of the tiger beetles I brought back alive from the Sandhills of western Nebraska since I was unable to get any good photographs of this species in the field. If this photo looks familiar, you may recall this headshot of another individual, representing the eastern subspecies (Cicindela formosa generosa), that I took back in September in southeast Missouri. Compare the two photos to see the distinctly reddish dorsal coloration of nominotypical C. formosa versus the darkened coloration of C. formosa generosa. Nominotypical C. formosa also has a much more violaceous ventral coloration.
If this guy looks a little angry, it’s because he is! I had prodded and poked him for some time by the time this photo was taken, trying to coax/force him away from the edge of terrarium in which I had him confined. Every time I thought I had him sitting still in a good position, he would run suddenly and make a beeline to the edge – a most unphotogenic place. He even reached up a few times, seemingly out of shear frustration, and bit at my finger while I tried to push him back away from the terrarium wall (talk about biting the hand that feeds you!). Finally I got him sitting still in the middle of the terrarium – his half-cocked mandibles suggesting exhaustion or rage, or maybe both.
Like the Cicindela limbata individual from the same locality that I brought back alive for photographs, this little beast lived for 10 weeks in his terrarium before, ahem… donating his body to science. Also like C. limbata, he amusingly reached up and grabbed caterpillars directly from the forceps almost every time one was offered. I think my colleagues in the lab enjoyed feeding time as much as the tiger beetle!