You don’t need a tropical vacation to find spectacularly-colored animals. One of the more common spring insects in eastern North America is the lovely six-spotted tiger beetle Cicindela sexguttata.

Cicindela sexguttata

Tiger Beetles are conspicuous insects with a devoted following among amateur and professional entomologists alike. Because they are often identifiable through photographs, tiger beetles are a great candidate for citizen science. Here, for example, is a range map for C. sexguttata generated by images from the vibrant online BugGuide community:

The distribution of Cicindela sexguttata, as seen by BugGuide's community. Does anyone in Mississippi want to fill in the gap?

Fifteen years ago, before the advent of cheap digital cameras and widespread internet, a map made entirely by crowd-sourced contributions would have been unthinkable.

photo details:
(top 2 photos)
Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 macro lens on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO 100, f/14, 1/200 sec, diffused 550EX flash.

(bottom 2 photos)
Canon MP-E 65mm 1-5x macro lens on a Canon EOS 7D
ISO 100, f/13, 1/250 sec, diffused MT-24EX twin flash.