Puritan Tiger Beetle
FWS Focus

Overview

Characteristics
Overview

Tiger beetles are a family of insects that are quick and voracious predators, capturing other invertebrates in a tiger-like manner. The Puritan tiger beetle, brownish bronze above with a metallic blue underside and narrow white lines on each wing, measures under half an inch in length. They can be found on sandy beaches and eroding cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland and the Connecticut River in New England.

Puritan tiger beetles have disappeared from much of their New England range and have declined in population size and distribution in their Chesapeake Bay range. The remaining Chesapeake Bay populations are highly susceptible to habitat loss or degradation due to shoreline development and bluff stabilization. Shoreline structures have been found to destroy the larval habitat directly or by promoting vegetation on cliff faces making the cliffs unsuitable for the larvae. Natural threats include flooding, parasites and insect predators.

Scientific Name

Cicindela puritana
Common Name
Puritan Tiger Beetle
FWS Category
Insects

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers

TSN:

Characteristics

Characteristic category

Habitat

Characteristics
Habitat

The Puritan tiger beetle is found in only two small regions, including the Connecticut River Valley in New England and along the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. The Puritan tiger beetle populations in these two regions have probably been separated for thousands of years and as a result have developed significant genetic and ecological differences.

Due to the nature of their life cycle, Puritan tiger beetle habitats are limited to sandy beaches along rivers and naturally eroding cliffs where there is little to no vegetation. In Maryland, the larvae occupy deep burrows after digging in sandy areas or non-vegetated portions of the bluff face or at the base of the cliffs. They are most abundant at sites where the bluffs are long and high with little or no vegetation. 

 

 

Coastal
Rural
Characteristic category

Behavior

Characteristics
Behavior

Puritan tiger beetles use their long legs to their advantage, running quickly in the sand to capture prey in their sharp jaws. These beetles alternate between bursts of foraging activity and periods of standing still. Along the Chesapeake Bay, adult Puritan tiger beetles are first seen in the summer when they emerge to feed and mate along the beach area. After mating, the females fly up to the top of cliffs to deposit their eggs. Newly-hatched larvae construct burrows in the cliffs and pass through three larval stages before metamorphosing in the adult form.

Characteristic category

Physical Characteristics

Characteristics
Physical Characteristics

Puritan tiger beetles use their long legs to their advantage, running quickly in the sand to capture prey in their sharp jaws. These beetles alternate between bursts of foraging activity and periods of standing still. Along the Chesapeake Bay, adult Puritan tiger beetles are first seen in the summer when they emerge to feed and mate along the beach area. After mating the females fly up to the top of cliffs to deposit their eggs. Newly hatched larvae construct burrows in the cliffs and pass through 3 larval stages before metamorphosing in the adult form.

Color & Pattern

The Puritan tiger beetle is long-legged and thin, brownish bronze above, with a metallic blue underside, and narrow white lines on each wing, measures less than half an inch in length. In sunlight it appears whitish and shining.

Characteristic category

Lifecycle

Characteristics
Lifespan

Puritan tiger beetles complete their life cycle in two years.

Geography

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