New York Natural Heritage Program
Appalachian Tiger Beetle
Cicindela ancocisconensis T.W. Harris, 1852

Identifying Characteristics [-]
Like other tiger beetles in the northeast, the Appalachian tiger beetle is a small insect approximately 0.5 inches (14-16 mm) in length with long sickle-shaped mouthparts, long thin antennae with 11 segments, a long body form with head and eyes wider than the middle portion (thorax) of the body, long thin legs for running, and a pattern of white markings referred to as maculations, on wing covers (elytra) located on top of the main portion of the body (abdomen). Like many northeastern species, the elytra of the Appalachian tiger beetle are a brown - bronze color and the maculations show as three thin, long white lines on each of the two elytra. The front maculation is shortened at its rear and does not curl forward in the shape of a "C" while the middle maculation has a long base along the edge of the elytra and a section that bends into the main portion of the elytra. The head, thorax, and abdomen of the Appalachian tiger beetle are a metallic blue-green to violet on the undersides. As with other tiger beetles, the larvae live in burrows in the ground and are white and grublike in appearance (Pearson et al. 2006, Leonard and Bell 1999).

Characters Most Useful for Identification [-]
Close examination of the pattern of the white maculations on the wing covers (elytra) and the number of teeth on the labrum (upper lip) are the diagnostic characters to examine for determination of the Appalachian tiger beetle (Pearson et al 2006, Leonard and Bell 1999).

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
All tiger beetles are best identified as adults. Far fewer good diagnostic characters are available for identifying larvae, many species lack formal or complete larval descriptions, and there is no comprehensive key for those larvae that have been described (Pearson et al. 2006). The larvae of the Appalachian tiger beetle has not been described (Leonard and Bell 1999).

Behavior [-]
Most adult tiger beetles are diurnal animals spending the warmer parts of the day running along the surface of the ground hunting, eating, and mating. They pursue prey by running in short, fast spurts interspersed with brief stops. Appalachian tiger beetles appear to be especially wary and will fly short distances into the more heavily vegetated portions of their habitat when they are flushed. Like most tiger beetles, they are most active on warm, sunny days and will retreat to burrows or hiding places at sunset or when skies become overcast.
Appalachian Tiger Beetle Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
This is a spring-fall species with adult activity periods from late April through June and again from mid July through early September, though fall activity periods are reported to be reduced or absent in some populations (Pearson et al. 2006, Knisley and Schultz 1997, Leonard and Bell 1999). The majority of records for New York are from either June or August and early September although there are July records as well. The lack of April or May records may reflect the lack of surveys during those months or later emergence in the northern portion of the species range (Gordon 1939, New York Natural Heritage Program 2006). The life cycle for this tiger beetle is thought to be two years in the southern portion of the range and three years in the northern portion, with larvae present in burrows throughout the year (Pearson et al. 2006, Knisley and Schultz 1997).
Reproducing Larvae present and active
The time of year you would expect to find Appalachian Tiger Beetle reproducing (blue shading) and larvae present and active (orange shading) in New York.
Similar Species
  • A Tiger Beetle (Cicindela duodecimguttata)
    The Twelve-spotted tiger beetle is also very similar to the Appalachian and Bronzed tiger beetles. However, in most Twelve-spotted tiger beetles, the maculations are broken so they appear as six separate spots on each wing cover or elytra. The teeth on the labrum are either absent or reduced to three wide, smooth bumps or only the middle tooth is present (Leonard and Bell 1999).