Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we have our annual selection of tiger beetle photos from reader Mike McDowell, whose notes and IDs are indented.

Of a possible 16, this collection represents 8 of Wisconsin’s tiger beetles, mostly found in the southern part of the state. Others not included, like Boreal Long-lipped and Cow Path Tiger Beetle, require a trip further north, and the Splendid Tiger Beetle is a species easier to find in September. Anyway, I was super thrilled to find Ghost Tiger Beetles at a sandlot just 20 minutes away from my house (near Madison), which in past years meant a trip to central Wisconsin. All photographs were taken with a mirrorless Nikon, a 60mm Tamron macro lens, and a ton of patience crawling around on the sand.

Six-spotted Tiger Beetle, Cicindela sexguttata:
Bronzed Tiger BeetleCicindela repanda:
Ghost Tiger BeetleEllipsoptera lepida:
Punctured Tiger BeetleCicindelidia punctulata:
Festive Tiger BeetleCicindela scutellaris:
Big Sand Tiger BeetleCicindela formosa generosa:
Sandy Stream Tiger BeetleEllipsoptera macra:
Hairy-necked Tiger BeetleCicindela hirticollis:


  1. GBJames
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    Wonderful shots!

    • W.T. Effingham
      Posted July 5, 2018 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      I like how the focus shows the various setae on each beetle.

  2. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 7:39 am | Permalink


  3. Terry Sheldon
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 8:13 am | Permalink

    I always enjoy when a reader sends in arthropod photos. The skill level (and patience and persistence) needed to capture such beautiful images amazes me. Furthermore, I am always delighted by the diversity and strange beauty of the subjects. Thanks!!

  4. Charlie Jones
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    What great photos of spectacular creatures! I will have to look up tiger beetles–I know nothing about them.

  5. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    All very good! I have only 3 of your species in my immediate area: The six-spotted, punctured, and the festive. Our festives are a lot darker. And wow, that is fortunate to have ghost tigers so near.

  6. Bruce Lyon
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Spectacular! The first green guy is amazing. That you have English names for all of these species interests me because it seems that some insect (and other arthropod) groups do get names and some don’t. It is a function of interest by the public? For example, butterflies and odonates (dragonflies and allies), both very popular with the public, seem to all have common names.

    • Posted July 5, 2018 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Thanks! There’s a field guide (David L. Pearson) for the 116 tiger beetle species of North America; all have a common name, but I’m not sure how they got them. It could very well be on account of public interest.

      • Posted July 5, 2018 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

        *116* species of *North American* *tiger* beetles? Wow.

        I had heard about “fondness”, but …

        • Posted July 5, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

          With significant variation within many species, as well as hybridization where some ranges overlap.

        • Mark Joseph
          Posted July 5, 2018 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

          It’s an “inordinate” fondness! 😉

  7. yazikus
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    So fancy.

  8. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    The thing that works so well with this entry is the pics are practically like baseball trading cards – you could put the stats on the back – collect them all!

    … though, i am keenly aware, the analogy with baseball cards is so tenuous as to be non-existent. Nevertheless, I find it amusing.

  9. loren russell
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    A real treat, Mike. For those who don’t know tiger beetles, I can imagine spending an hour to catch one unawares: these are among the most visually acute and quick — on foot and on wing — of all beetles. Right up there with wasps and flies.

    And imagine scaling these beetles up — look at those jaws!

    • een
      Posted July 5, 2018 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      I recall reading that the typical tiger beetle action of run-fast-then-stop is necessary because they are so fast they outrun their brain’s ability to process the visual information they’re getting. They have to apuse to re-set.

      I used to enjoy throwing food items a couple of metres or so in front of tiger beetles, and watching them race up and grab it.

  10. Mark R.
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Wow! Your patience crawling around on the sand paid off. The sand also makes a good background for these little jewels.

  11. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    The more i think of it, the more i think making trading cards of these and other RWP animals would be… well, great.

  12. Posted July 5, 2018 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Oh, gosh, these are magnificent, Mike! Thank you.

  13. Mark Joseph
    Posted July 5, 2018 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    Super-excellent photos. Thank you!

  14. Diane G
    Posted July 6, 2018 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    Wow! I never knew there were non iridescent-green tiger beetles. Those hairy ones with the beautifully marked carapaces are so striking. And all with those super impressive jaws!

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