2 days, 6 localities, 10 species…

Here’s an updated itinerary for the 7th Annual Fall Tiger Beetle Trip that fellow cicindelophile Chris Brown and I are in the midst of. We’ve spent the past two days visiting six localities in Nebraska and South Dakota. So far, we’ve found a total of 10 species – including every species we had hoped to see at this point in the trip. The list so far (in chronological order) is:

  • Cicindela (s. str.) tranquebarica kirbyi – ho hum, we’ll see this in several places.
  • Cicindela (s. str.) purpurea audubonii – über common Great Plains species, although the black form is always a treat to see.
  • Cicindela (s. str.) pulchra – YEAH! Seen in good numbers at one of the new South Dakota localities discovered in 2008 by Matt Brust (our personal chaperone for the day). Marvelous field photographs.
  • Cicindela (s. str.) fulgida – Only one seen, but Chris got a nice series of field photographs (I’ve seen good numbers of this species from my previous trips to this area in 2008 and in Oklahoma last year).
  • Cicindela (s. str.) nebraskana – Another “A list” species for the trip, but we’ve only seen one so far.
  • Cicindela (Cicindelidia) punctulata punctulata – also known as Cicindela ubiquita.
  • Cicindela (s. str.) scutellaris scutellaris – even though this is a common Great Plains species in any sandy area, I never tire of its dazzling red elytra and blue/green head and pronotum.
  • Cicindela (s. str.) lengi – The third species on our “A list” that we’ve seen, with some real nice field photographs from Monroe Canyon.
  • Cicindela (s. str.) formosa generosa – another common Great Plains species.
  • Cicindela (s. str.) denverensis – I didn’t expect to see this one on the trip (just a single individual at Monroe Canyon), but I’ll take it!

Tomorrow we’ll hit a Wyoming location where Cicindela (s. str.) decemnotata is known to hang out – a species I’ve not yet seen, either alive or preserved. Most sources regard this species as closely related to C. denverensis, but Matt thinks it is actually more closely related to C. fulgida due to similarity in form and shine but green instead of purple. Afterwards, in a major addition to our planned itinerary (hence the updated Google Map), we’ll go into northwestern Colorado to look for two very cool subspecies of the otherwise widespread species – C. formosa gibsoni and C. scutellaris yampae. If we’re lucky we’ll also see the delicate little sand lover, Cicindela (s. str.) limbata, but if we don’t see it there then we should see it the next day when we finish out the trip back in the Nebraska Sand Hills just east of Alliance. But before that, we’ll veer back up into Wyoming and look around in the high elevations east of Laramie in hopes of finding Cicindela (s. str.) longilabris laurentii. That one may be a stretch, but if we are successful then we have the potential to see a total of 15 species – that would be a trip high for me (literally and figuratively).

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2010

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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6 Responses to 2 days, 6 localities, 10 species…

  1. Margarethe says:

    Wow, wished I was there. Great list of spp.!

  2. Modoc Charlie says:

    Hi Ted:
    If you are looking for C. limbata at the dunes behind the Sandhiller Motel in Wray, NE Colorado, the dune there is now totally overgrown with vegetation, or at least was in 2007. You can find it at several locations in the Nebraska sandhills, as you are aware of.

    C. formosa gibsoni and C. s. yampae can still be found west of Maybell in NW Colorado, and occasionally just east of the little town of Maybell on sand blowouts. C.s. yampae is extremely attractive.

    • Hi Charlie – I was in Wray, CO in 2008 and didn’t see much except formosa and scutellaris.

      Today we worked the sand dunes east of Maybell (couldn’t find the ones west of town) – no adults were active, but we found numerous larvae of both C. formosa gibsoni and C. s. yampae. I collected eight 3rd-instar larvae of each species and set them up in rearing containers.

      So where exactly are these dunes west of Maybell? Everyone says they are just west of town, but we looked all over the area just past the junction with Hwy 318 and didn’t see anything remotely resembling dunes. We started getting the feeling of a wild goose chase and just went back to the dunes we saw coming in from the east. Google Maps shows a pretty extensive dune system fanning out from that spot to the south, but nothing west of town.

      • Modoc Charlie says:

        There is a very large sand blowout approx. 10 miles west of Maybell. Highway 40 makes a roadcut through this large sandy dune. You need to hike up on top the dune on the north side of the highway, although at times C, formosa gibsoni and C. tranq have been found down close to the road on the sloping sand hill. Found these two sp and C. s. yampae and one or two C. lengi here in May, 07, all up on the top of the sand hill near the fence.

        You can park along the edge of the highway here but the last time I was there I did get a warning from the Colorado Highway Patrol. So you may have to drive down the hill to a turnout at the base of the hill and hike back. That would be drive west down the hill.

        I have only been there in May both times, never late in the season.

        Good luck, let me know what you find.

        • Thanks, Charlie – great info. Too bad I didn’t know about this before the trip, but going to Maybell was a last minute addition to the itinerary. I’m happy to have found the larvae, and hopefully I’ll be able to rear them to adulthood – that can be even more satisfying than just finding the adults.

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