This might be our commonest tiger beetle, but its metallic green hue and long-legged bursts of speed make it a delight to see in the spring and summer.
Photo: Sarah Board
Scientific name: Cicindela campestris
What to look for:
• Colouring and appearance: Metallic green and iridescent, with creamy yellow spots on the wing cases; long, bronze-purple legs, straight antennae, and large eyes. The adults show some variability in colouring.
• Size: Length, 10.5 to 14.5 mm.
• Where: Heathland, brownfield sites, sandy grassland, dunes. Common in Britain and across Eurasia.
• When: Spring and summer
It may be common, with a liking for brownfield sites as well as heathland and sandy dunes, but the Green Tiger Beetle, with its iridescent green colouring and scuttling, long-legged run, is always a delight to see. They are active throughout the summer and into the early autumn, and you can spot them either running along the ground as they hunt for prey, or basking on bare, sandy earth as they soak up the sunshine on warm days. You might see them flying on buzzing wings when they are disturbed.
They prey on small invertebrates, using their strong mandibles. Females lay their eggs individually in separate burrows, where the larva remains as it develops, anchored by a spine on its back. The larvae also have mandibles, and are just as fierce predators as the adults. They use their burrow as a pitfall trap, quickly devouring unfortunate prey, such as ants and small spiders, that falls in.
Did you know…?
… There are more than 350 species of ground beetle in Britain.
… Tiger beetles are amongst the fastest insects in the UK, at speeds of up to 60 cm per second.
More information and references:
Chinery, M., 2005. Collins Complete Guide to British Insects. Collins, London.
Published: May 2018
Author: Amanda Scott
Photos: Allan Drewitt/NE (upper and lower photos); Sarah Board (middle photo, taken near Erisey Barton, Goonhilly)