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.
Coming soon – lunchtime for adults!
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009