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Tiger Beetle Rearing


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I was out doing some survey work with a few of my friends and colleagues, and I made sure to give myself some time to collect at my leisure. There were many tiger beetles that dotted the paths we walked upon. As an entomologist, you love to see tiger beetles while collecting. Tiger beetles are indicators of pristine habitat, and pristine habitat is where you usually see the most diversity among insects.

 

I had to collect a tiger beetle! After 15 minutes of chasing them around with my net, I managed to capture one. I'll have to double check, but I believe the species I have is Cicindela obsoleta. I've been doing a bit of research, but I was hoping someone could give me the low down on keeping and breeding Cicindelids. Thanks!

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Adult tiger beetles are not known to be long-lived. They usually drink by sucking moisture from a mouthful of damp substrate, but you can also provide them with water gel to drink from. Provide it with damp substrate similar to what it was found around and give it something to hide under. If it's a male, you'll notice fuzzy white tarsal pads on the first pair of legs which would be absent in females. Oviposition can be tricky since they will usually refuse to lay in substrate that they find unsuitable--it must have the right assortment of substrate grain sizes and just the right moisture levels. I recommend collecting some of the substrate where they are found if you wish to try to convince them to oviposit.

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Adult tiger beetles are not known to be long-lived. They usually drink by sucking moisture from a mouthful of damp substrate, but you can also provide them with water gel to drink from. Provide it with damp substrate similar to what it was found around and give it something to hide under. If it's a male, you'll notice fuzzy white tarsal pads on the first pair of legs which would be absent in females. Oviposition can be tricky since they will usually refuse to lay in substrate that they find unsuitable--it must have the right assortment of substrate grain sizes and just the right moisture levels. I recommend collecting some of the substrate where they are found if you wish to try to convince them to oviposit.

 

I've considered using native soils. I don't know if I should sterilize it or not though.

 

The soil around here is heavily sand and clay based. It's very dry as well. I've given my specimens 5 inches of damp substrate which consists of a mix of sand, peat moss, and coconut fiber. I may switch to native soil though.

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Yeah, I would use what you found them on. I only see C. punctulata on a very specific type of hard- packed, clay/sand soil, but wherever I see that soil there's always C. punctulata.

Bear in mind that tiger beetles won't behave naturally unless you use a hot light bulb to simulate the sun, but that will make the substrate dry out quickly. A water bowl with damp sand is a good idea. If you keep them warm and well- lit, though, they're real fun to watch and feed.

I've had tiger beetles mate and oviposit, but the resulting larvae only lasted a few weeks because I couldn't get them enough small live food. Perhaps you'll have better luck than me if you have a culture of flightless fruitflies, bean weevils, dwarf isopods or anything like that.

 

Just wondering, why are tiger beetles an indicator of a pristine habitat? I see C. repanda anywhere sand meets freshwater, and C. punctulata has supposedly developed pesticide resistance from its occurrence in agricultural fields.

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Yeah, I would use what you found them on. I only see C. punctulata on a very specific type of hard- packed, clay/sand soil, but wherever I see that soil there's always C. punctulata.

Bear in mind that tiger beetles won't behave naturally unless you use a hot light bulb to simulate the sun, but that will make the substrate dry out quickly. A water bowl with damp sand is a good idea. If you keep them warm and well- lit, though, they're real fun to watch and feed.

I've had tiger beetles mate and oviposit, but the resulting larvae only lasted a few weeks because I couldn't get them enough small live food. Perhaps you'll have better luck than me if you have a culture of flightless fruitflies, bean weevils, dwarf isopods or anything like that.

 

Just wondering, why are tiger beetles an indicator of a pristine habitat? I see C. repanda anywhere sand meets freshwater, and C. punctulata has supposedly developed pesticide resistance from its occurrence in agricultural fields.

 

 

Cicindelinae require very specific moisture and substrate requirements to survive. They also happen to be very intolerant of human activity. It's probably more accurate to say something like "Tiger beetles are common in pristine habitats, and don't often survive areas of human activity." Good judgment should also be used when evaluating a habitat, though biomarkers, like tiger beetles, are a good indicator of good habitat.

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Funny, I always see tiger beetles in places that have been disturbed by humans. Dirt roads, well- worn hiking trails, artificial sand beaches (where vegetation has been removed from a lakeshore), quarries, and dry patches in sports fields where the grass is kept short by mowing. Though this is probably because I live in a climate dominated by forest, so the open habitats tiger beetles favor usually don't occur naturally.

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In environments where invasive plant life such as non-native grasses have taken over, human disturbance can actually maintain the habitat by clearing areas that have become overgrown--creating habitat that was lost.

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In environments where invasive plant life such as non-native grasses have taken over, human disturbance can actually maintain the habitat by clearing areas that have become overgrown--creating habitat that was lost.

Where I live, basically the only native habitat is forest. Generally, all other habitats are the result of human activity and will eventually revert back to forest if left undisturbed.

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Funny, I always see tiger beetles in places that have been disturbed by humans. Dirt roads, well- worn hiking trails, artificial sand beaches (where vegetation has been removed from a lakeshore), quarries, and dry patches in sports fields where the grass is kept short by mowing. Though this is probably because I live in a climate dominated by forest, so the open habitats tiger beetles favor usually don't occur naturally.

I'm on the Great Plains in the rain shadow of the Rockies. The native habitat around here is dry prairie, and I only ever see Cicindelinae in these native habitats. Anywhere that has been even slightly disturbed will drive the beetles away where I am.

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But they're clearly not a universal indication of pristine habitat, because around here many species occur mainly as a result of human disturbance.

I'll be willing to accept that, but in nearly every entomology or ecology class I've taken, tiger beetles are presented as a bioindicator of a healthy ecosystem and good habitat. I've done more than a few surveys on tiger beetles to help analyze a habitat.

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Of course, just because a habitat was created by human disturbance doesn't mean it isn't a good habitat with lots of biodiversity. A field that's kept sunny and sparse by constant removal of taller vegetation could simulate a healthy ecosystem in a more arid region. The dry, mown field where I often see C. punctulata appears to have a much greater diversity of ants, solitary wasps, and orthopterans compared to the adjacent forest.

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Of course, just because a habitat was created by human disturbance doesn't mean it isn't a good habitat with lots of biodiversity. A field that's kept sunny and sparse by constant removal of taller vegetation could simulate a healthy ecosystem in a more arid region. The dry, mown field where I often see C. punctulata appears to have a much greater diversity of ants, solitary wasps, and orthopterans compared to the adjacent forest.

Well of course, but you're unlikely to see tiger beetles in a sandy lot in the middle of a big city. That's kind of what I'm talking about in terms of human activity.

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Ok, it appears I'm seeing some cannibalism in these as well. I've gone from seven adults down to four, and I saw a detached elytron and a few legs scattered around the enclosure. Should I separate? I feel like I'm feeding them well.

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