ID Challenge #15

Who am I, and where do I live?

It’s been almost a month since the last challenge, and since Alex got back to his roots I think I’ll do likewise. This is a straight up identification—the order and family are obvious (or should be), so I’m going to limit ID points to genus and species. However, to make up for this loss of higher taxa points I’ll be awarding points for correctly guessing/deducing/intuiting where this little beastie lives or providing any unique comments on its natural history. As always, standard challenge rules apply, including moderated comments to give everyone a chance to submit their answers.  Bonus points will be awarded to for answering first in the case of multiple correct answers, and discretionary bonus points are also up for grabs. Good luck!

Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2012

27 thoughts on “ID Challenge #15

  1. fuzzy wuzzy was a tiger….beetle, on sand, appx 1:1 elytra coloration, & bronzy-green metallic……. I guess
    Cincindela theatina Colorado Dune Tiger Beetle

    • Hi Dorian – 2 pts each for correct species and genus, but I also have to deduct 1 pt for misspelled genus name and another lack of italics (sorry, but them’s the rules). Not to worry, however, you also get 5 bonus points for each person you beat to the punch with the correct species.

      Total = 7 pts

  2. I do believe that this one is a Blowout Tiger Beetle, Cicindela lengi[1]. They live in “blowouts”, sandy pits that occur on flat land with sandy soil during dry periods. If something damages the vegetation that normally stabilizes the soil, wind can scour away the topsoil and leave these barren spots that can last for some time before they get recolonized by vegetation.

    And, since tiger beetles are adapted to sandy areas, species like this one tend to colonize these transient blowouts. It looks like Cicindela lengi specifically lives in the moderately dry great plains, running from Central Canada down to Texas, hopping from blowout to blowout as they occur.

    The mineralogy of the sand looks a lot like the St. Anthony dune sand from some of your previous posts (rich in dark mafic minerals and light minerals that are obviously not quartz), so I’d guess this one was probably photographed near there.

    [1] I incorrectly guessed this as the answer a few challenges ago, but this time I think it might actually be correct!

    • Sorry Tim – correct genus (2 pts), but the wide elytral bands and green/brown coloration distinguish this species from the reddish C. lengi.

      I’ve featured C. lengi a couple of times on this blog, so the chances that I’ll feature it in an ID Challenge are very high now (although I reserve the right, of course :)).

      Total = 2 pts

  3. Cicindela (Cicindelidia) willistoni
    “Patchily distributed on salt and alkali areas of southwest. Populations east of the Rocky Mountains have partt of their heads thickly covered with white hairlike setae, and those west of the mountains have few hairs on the head.” (Pearson, A Field Guide to the Tiger Beetles of the United States and Canada

  4. I’ll go with Cicindela theatina again as I did in Challenge 13 and I’ll say it lives in the Great Sand Dunes of Colorado.

    • Yes, 2 pts each for genus and species (but -1 pt for no italics – see above). 2 pts also for identifying where it lives, plus 4 early-bird bonus pts.

      Total = 9 pts and a piece of the win!

  5. I’ll get the unnecessary part out of the way and say that it belongs in Coleoptera and family Carabidae (subfamily Cicindelinae). Or if you’re being true to your “roots” Coleoptera, family Cicindelidae.

    The pattern on your specimen can be found in several species within the genus Cicindela, so quick identification from a picture taken from in front and to the side can be tricky. Sadly the condition of the apical lunule is not well illustrated so I have to go on what I can see. On the last challenge I over-thought the identification, and allowed myself to swayed by the season and your use of the term “crop”. This time I think I’ll go with first impressions and say that this is Cicindela formosa formosa, the Big Sand Tiger Beetle. The species is found west of the Missouri River on sandy substrates. This would be the species found locally for you. The one thing that troubles me is that the head and thorax are not the same color as the elytra. That might be a result of the angle or I could be completely wrong about the identification. Such is the problem with identifying beetles from pictures.

    • Up in Wyoming there is a population of C. formosa that has the elytra/pronotum green rather than the standard crimson-red, but otherwise there aren’t any populations of that species with any green on them. As you note, identification from photos can be tricky, and I deliberately chose a rather distant-view, oblique-angled photo to keep it from being too easy.

      Total = 2 pts

  6. I think this little guy is Cicindela theatina. The elytral maculations seem to match up, along with the bronzy-green dorsal coloring and metallic green head. If this guy is C. theatina, that means you must have found it in the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado. This is a spring/fall species mostly found on open sand dunes.

    • Very good – correctly spelled genus and species with full italics nets you 4 pts. Place (although it doesn’t necessarily occur only within GSDNP) nets you another 2 pts, and you also get 3 early-bird points.

      Total = 9 pts and a share of the win!

  7. Chuckle… Just now in my reader, the first line of your initial post read, “Who am I, and where do I live?” Well, um, you’re Ted C. MacRae, a well-versed, proud coleopterist and hopefully prouder father, and you live in Missouri, USA. I’ll add two more: 1) I’m guessing you work for Monsanto, one of the largest bio tech companies in the world which is looking to expand its money generating sources in Argentina 2) You’re looking to get out of the business due to the cost of moral trade-offs. Best wishes.

    ps – I still don’t understand why you post quizzes.

    • Hmm… flattery laced with insult. I’m tempted to award you a few points just for nerve.

      I post quizzes because they are fun – both for me and, if level of participation is any indication, quite a few other people as well. I’m not quite sure how you were expecting me to respond, but the quizzes will likely continue.

    • Rather decieving, as this species is not so typically redish, but from a few specimens I do have redish ones. I would say this is Cicindela theatina, by the color of the head and pronotum being greenish, the harriness of the neck and legs and the fact that it is on sand rather than wet areas. Found only in the Great Sand Dunes National Monument in CO. OK, what is it?

      • Yes, 2 pts each for genus and species (but -1 for no italics). You also get 2 pts for place (but see above clarifications), and I’m also going to give you a bonus point for mentioning the connection between hairy neck and legs and dry sand habitats.

        Total = 6 pts

    • Correct genus, but see comment to George on how this species differs from C. lengi. I do, however, (and I really hate to do this) have to deduct a point for not italicizing scientific names – sorry.

      Total = 1 pt

        • Any word can be italicized in any browser by typing “<i>” (without the quotes) at the beginning and “</i>” at the end. If for some reason you can’t do that, even just an asterisk before and after the word is enough to indicate your intent. Some people have gotten lazy about italicizing scientific names, and my insistence on doing so in these challenges is just my little way of stressing its importance.

  8. Well, if nothing else that was an enjoyable break googling/reading about a few USian tiger beetles.

    The only one I cam across with the metallic green pronotum/head and duller coloring on the elytra was Cicindela theatina, which fits with the sandy substrate in this photo as I see that species is limited to sand dunes in Colorado – including part of Great Sand Dunes National Park.

    (BTW, I had my first encounter with a tiger beetle a couple of weeks ago, and I’m now further in awe of your ability to photograph these guys in the wild: Sprint. Stop. Sprint. Stop. Fly. Sprint… 🙂

    • Impressive to see a Kiwi figuring this one out (with correct spelling and italicization to boot!) – 4 pts for the genus/species, another 2 pts for the place (plus a bonus point for the fine distinction of the range specifics), and 2 early-bird bonus points.

      Total = 9 pts and a 3-way split for the win!

      I most heartily concur with your description of photographing tiger beetles!


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