Sunday, September 04, 2016

Two Tiger Beetles!


Spring Green Preserve (west unit)

Winds from the south have stalled bird migration for the past few days. Yesterday, Dottie Johnson and I scoured the creek corridor at Pheasant Branch for 3 hours in order to reach 10 warbler species. We found our first Northern Parula of fall migration, a single Canada Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, and very low numbers of other warbler species. More will come, but we'll have to wait for the next cold front to bring them down from the north.


Silky Aster

Last night I saw on Facebook that Alex Harman and Lester Doyle found Common Claybank Cicindela limbalis and Splendid Cicindela splendida tiger beetles Saturday at Spring Green Preserve. Claybank would be a new species for me and I've only ever observed and photographed a single Splendid. I called Mark Johnson to see if he wanted to go on a tiger beetle hunt for the two species. Claybank would also be a lifer for him, so we headed west early this morning to see if we could relocate the beetles. Since Alex and Lester reported multiple of each species, we thought our chances were pretty good.


Rough Blazingstar

The prickly pear cacti were done flowering, but blazingstar and asters were in full bloom. We carefully navigated our way to the spot Alex showed me on a map. As we began finding rocks, we knew we were getting close.


Prickly Pear Cactus

And just like that, we found 3 Splendid Tiger Beetles! The first thing I noticed is that these are fairly large tiger beetles, nearly the size of Big Sand Cicindela formosa generosa. Now that we were in the right spot we set our sights on finding Claybank.


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Common Claybank Tiger Beetle Cicindela limbalis

Mark found our first Common Claybank Tiger Beetle after several minutes of searching. They're fairly similar looking to the Splendid and both species show a little variation in color and maculations (patterns) of their elytra (wing cases). There were many more Splendid than Claybank. I'd estimate around 30 of the former and half a dozen of the latter, so we had little difficulty observing them.


Common Claybank Tiger Beetle Cicindela limbalis

Fortunately for us, the tiger beetles were fairly cooperative for the first hour or so. After the sun warmed them, though, they became more skittish and difficult to approach. Nevertheless, I was able to get many handsome portraits of these colorful tiny monsters. Lichens on the rocks provided brilliant accents.


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida


Splendid Tiger Beetle Cicindela splendida

All images © 2016 Mike McDowell

2 comments:

  1. Oh, and congratulations on a "new" species for your life list!

    ReplyDelete