Bon appétit!

I collected this larva in northwest Nebraska during last year’s Fall Tiger Beetle Trip.  I collected an adult Cicindela lengi (blowout tiger beetle) at the spot – a species that greatly resembles but is much less common than the ubiquitous C. formosa (big sand tiger beetle – see my post Cicindela lengi vs. Cicindela formosa for a comparison of the two species).  Before finally finding that adult, however, I had fished out several larvae from the site in the hopes that they represented that uncommon species (see how I did this in my post Goin’ fishin’).  After collecting the larvae and placing them in a small terrarium with native sandy soil, they burrowed in but then closed up shop – I wasn’t sure whether they had survived or not.  In early December I put the terrarium in a 10°C incubator for the winter and brought it back out earlier this month.  Yesterday, happily, this larva and one other opened up their burrows again, so with any luck I’ll feed them well and they’ll complete their development.  While I do hope they represent C. lengi, other possibilities include C. scutellaris (festive tiger beetle), which would not be exciting, and C. nebraskana (prairie long-lipped tiger beetle), which would be VERY exciting.  One species I do not have to worry about it being is C. formosa, as the larvae of that species make very unique excavations in the sand with the burrow opening directed towards the excavation (I don’t believe I’ve posted photos of that here, yet – I’ll have to do so soon).

In the meantime, here is a closeup of the larva in the video prior to feeding. Those of you who have ever reared or photographed tiger beetle larvae will know just how easily “spooked” these larvae can be – any sudden movement will cause the larva to “drop” into its burrow and sit there for awhile. As a result, it was a real challenge to go through the whole process of taking first the photos and then the video while feeding it without causing it to drop.

cicindela_sp_larva_p1020936

Coming soon – lunchtime for adults!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009

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About Ted C. MacRae

Ted C. MacRae is a research entomologist by vocation and beetle taxonomist by avocation. Areas of expertise in the latter include worldwide jewel beetles (Buprestidae) and North American longhorned beetles (Cerambycidae). More recent work has focused on North American tiger beetles (Cicindelidae) and their distribution, ecology, and conservation.
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8 Responses to Bon appétit!

  1. Isn’t it exciting to wait and see what breeds out of these things, Ted? I can’t wait to see what they are.

  2. Marvin says:

    I hope it proves to be a Cicindela lengi for you.

    Thanks for the still. My dailup is just too slow to get the video to load properly.

    • Even if it proves to be something else, it is still fun rearing them and seeing behaviors like this. Too bad you can’t see the video – I was really surprised that I got the still photos and the video and “the catch” all in one take!

  3. Fascinating! We can’t wait to see who emerges. The excitement of Christmas morning seems like an apt comparison . . .

  4. zhakee says:

    That video is so cool. Great idea to make it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of those larvae before.

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