Friday Beetle Blogging: The Swift Tiger Beetle

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[the following is an invited post by coleopterist Ted MacRae]

Ted MacRae from Beetles in the Bush here, and today it is my privilege to present this week’s post for the Friday Beetle Blogging series here at Myrmecos Blog. For what reason was I bestowed this great honor? I’d like to say it was because of my witty prose, my stunning photography, or even my all around niceness.  In truth, however, it was simply because I was the June winner of Alex’s Monday Night Mystery contest – so he had to let me!

These are some of my most recent photographs of Cylindera celeripes, or the Swift Tiger Beetle.  This tiny (6-8 mm in length), flightless beetle and I have become good friends over the past couple of years, which is saying something since the species has been dealt a rather bad hand by man over the past century.  Once abundant in the central and southern Great Plains, its numbers have declined drastically as the native prairie habitats it depends upon have been converted to row crops and exotic grasses.  It was last seen in Nebraska nearly 100 years ago, and only small numbers have been seen in the Loess Hills of Iowa during the past half century.  The Flint Hills of Kansas seemed to be its last stronghold, but last year I found robust populations in the Red Clay/Gypsum Hills of northwestern Oklahoma and extended its known range in the Loess Hills south into Missouri.  Since then, I’ve been monitoring these two populations and perfecting laboratory rearing techniques for this never-before-reared species.  Just yesterday (big announcement!), the first individual reared completely from egg to adult emerged from its pupal chamber.  The photos shown here were taken last weekend in Oklahoma’s Glass Mountains – the first shows a female in the act of ovipositing into a small hole she had dug in the soil, and the second is a closer view of the same individual after she had finished her business.


photo details: Canon 50D camera
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens
ISO 100, f/14 (top) f/13 (bottom), 1/250 sec
Canon MT-24EX flash (1/8 power, double diffusion)

13 thoughts on “Friday Beetle Blogging: The Swift Tiger Beetle”

    1. Absolutely – all of the new records are part of a manuscript nearing completion that will review historical and current distribution of the beetle and discuss its conservation status. The larval instars will also be formally described once I have enough examples of each, with rearing techniques included in that paper.

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  2. James C. Trager

    So Ted: Is “myrmecine” the adjective meaning referring to Myrmecos. Just asking, since it is not a myrmecological term (as spelled).

    1. Technically, one could argue that “myrmecine” is an noun referring to any member of the subfamily Myrmecinae or the tribe Myrmecini. Were I to actually launch Myrmecine Monday, however, I doubt anyone would object to members of other subfamilies/tribes being featured 🙂

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