Since figuring out a couple weeks that I had the larva of North America’s largest tiger beetle (Amblycheila cylindriformis, or Great Plains giant tiger beetle) in a rearing tub in the lab, I haven’t been able to think about anything except how cool it would be to go back out to the Glass Mountains in northwest Oklahoma (where I collected the larva last June) and look for the adults. I have every reason not to do this trip – I just spent a long weekend up in northwest Missouri on follow up surveys for our newly discovered population of Cylindera celeripes (swift tiger beetle) (my second such trip in the past three weeks¹), and in a mere week and a half I leave for a 2-week trip to France. Bills need to be paid, the grass needs cutting, and (as of today) a broken spoke needs to be repaired. My collecting trips are normally planned far in advance – their timing and frequency part of a delicate balance between the goals I set for the season and the responsibilities that go along with having a job and a family.
¹ More on this in an upcoming post.
But for Amblycheila, it’s now or never – at least for this season, and the thought of waiting until next year before I can take my first valid shot at finding this species in the wild (and perhaps a previously unrecorded population, at that²) is just too unbearable. So here I am, halfway to the Glass Mountains on as impulsive a trip as I’ve taken in a long time, hoping that my hunch pays off and I’ll find the strikingly large adults of A. cylindriformis lumbering below the flat-topped mesas in the mixed grass prairie where a little more than a year ago I was collecting its enormous larva. It’s a drive-collect-drive trip, and if successful I won’t be the first person to photograph them, even well, but it will nevertheless fulfill my longtime desire to locate this species in the wild and see it with my own eyes – a far more gratifying experience than looking at the lone dead specimen acquired long ago through trade that sits in my cabinet. Wish me luck!
² Drew and Van Cleave (1962) saw only a single specimen from the state in neighboring Woodward Co., although this is now a rather old reference.
Drew, W. A. and H. W. Van Cleave. 1962. The tiger beetles of Oklahoma (Cicindelidae). Proceedings of the Oklahoma Academy of Science 42:101–122.
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010