Day 118 Cicindela Sexguttata

April 6, 2015

(This is part of a 365 project during my 70th year where I write and illustrate a blog on each day's gift.)

On my 3 ½-mile walk in the park today, I had a brief visitor, a green iridescent beetle that landed on the walking path right in front of me. I stopped, looked closer and grabbed my cell phone, happy that I was able to take a photo before it flew off, apparently unwilling to tackle prey my size.  I am grateful for my size because I learned that they grasp, pierce and crush their prey. Their feline namesake has powerful jaws and so does this tiny insect, which uses its powerful mandibles to subdue victims. Of course, they would be welcome in gardens because they are carnivores and feed on other insects.

This stunning creature that crossed paths with me is a six-spotted tiger beetle. Sources say it is not gregarious and only associates with others of its kind in order to mate or to eat them. Yes, they are cannibals. It also appears they are possessive because after the male mates on top of the female, it rides her back for a while longer in an attempt to keep other males from mating with her. They are found from Canada to Florida on the east coast in wooded areas near logs where they make their burrows. I found it at Downs Park near a wooded area with lots of fallen logs. 

I learned that the six-spotted tiger beetle lives for about five years and usually grows to be about a half-inch. Since the beetle that appeared on my path was more than ½ inch, it must have emerged from its burrow as an adult, the same burrow where it once lived as a larva and pupa. I read that it secretes a volatile chemical from its abdomen, so a bird, frog or dragonfly will wind up with a bad taste after a meal of this tiger.

Many years ago, at the end of each class, my college botany teacher at Frostburg used to fold his hands while wearing a beatific smile and say, “Isn’t nature wonderful?” My answer is a resounding, “Yes.”

My gift today is a six-spotted tiger beetle.

> Day 119 Aunt Gleasie

You can find links to my other posts on this project here:

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