Miami tiger beetle
- Taxa: Arthropod (Ground Beetle)
- Range: Miami-Dade County in South Florida
- Status: Listed as Endangered
The beetle has an oval shape, bulging eyes and is one of the smallest tiger beetles in the United States, measuring 0.26–0.35 inches long. The underside of the abdomen is orange to orange-brown in color. It is uniquely identified by the shiny dark green dorsal surface.
As is typical of other tiger beetles, adult Miami tiger beetles are active daytime predators. They use their keen vision to detect movement of prey, then run quickly to capture it with their well-developed jaws. The species has a lifecycle that takes approximately one year to complete.
The Miami tiger beetle is found exclusively in pine rocklands. This ecosystem is unique to southern Florida and the Bahamas. In Florida, pine rocklands are found along the Miami Rock Ridge, within the Florida Keys, and in Big Cypress National Preserve.
Pine rocklands are characterized by limestone substrate, a South Florida slash pine canopy, a diverse hardwood and palm subcanopy, and a very rich herbaceous layer.
The plants and animals found in pine rocklands include a diversity of native tropical and temperate species. As a fire-maintained community, periodic natural or prescribed burns are required to eliminate invading hardwoods, assist in nutrient cycling, and to reduce duff layers.
Pine rocklands have been heavily impacted by habitat destruction, conversion to agriculture, fire suppression, exotic plant and animal invasions, collecting pressure on plants and animals, and alterations to hydrology.
Ants are the most common meal for Miami tiger beetles.
The historical range of the Miami tiger beetle is not completely known, and available information is limited based on the single historical observation prior to the species’ rediscovery in 2007. It was initially documented in 1934 from the northern end of the Miami Rock Ridge, within pine rocklands characterized by extensive sandy pockets of quartz sand, a feature that is necessary for the Miami tiger beetle. It is likely that the Miami tiger beetle historically occurred throughout pine rockland habitat on the Miami Rock Ridge, including outside the boundaries of Everglades National Park.
The species is found outside the boundaries of Everglades National Park on the pine rocklands of the Miami Rock Ridge in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The Miami tiger beetle is known to occur in two populations separated by urban development that are within 3.1 miles (5 kilometers) of each other. Based upon available information from survey data, it appears that the species occurs in a very limited range. Surveys and observations conducted at Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park have found no Miami tiger beetles, and habitat conditions there are considered unsuitable for the species.
Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation have destroyed an estimated 98% of the historical pine rockland habitat with Miami-Dade County outside of Everglades National Park. The threat of habitat loss continues due to development, inadequate habitat management, encroaching vegetation, and environmental effects resulting from climate change.
Collection is also a significant threat to the species and could potentially occur at some locations at any time.
These threats are made more severe due to the species’ restricted range, the few small populations, and relative isolation. While these threats may act in isolation, it is likely that they act simultaneously or in combination resulting in cumulative impacts to the species.
Partnerships, research and projects
Early in 2014, due to the species’ extreme vulnerability and threats, the Service considered adding it to the candidate list.
On December 11, 2014, the Service received a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity, the Miami Blue Chapter of the North American Butterfly Association, South Florida Wildlands Association, Tropical Audubon Society and others requesting that the Miami tiger beetle be emergency listed as endangered and that critical habitat be designated under the Act.
In a February 13, 2015, letter to the petitioners, the Service stated that although we determined that emergency listing was not warranted, we would review the petitioned request for listing.
How you can help
If you are a landowner with land on or near the Miami Rock Ridge in Miami-Dade County, please contact our South Florida Ecological Services Office at the address below or contact Ken Warren, Public Affairs Officer, at 772-469-4323 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about Miami tiger beetles, pine rockland habitat and what you can do to help protect them.
South Florida Ecological Services Office
1339 20th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960 Phone: 772-469-4323 Fax: 772-562-4288 Web: fws.gov/verobeach
Federal Register notices
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