My previous post featured several photos of Cicindela formosa generosa (Eastern Big Sand Tiger Beetle). This gorgeous beetle is said to occur in open, dry sand habitats throughout the Great Plains and more sporadically across the north-central and northeastern U.S. Like most other existing photos of this species, they show adults on barren sand with not so much as a sprig of vegetation to be seen. As a result, one might presume that adult beetles prefer the most open and barren areas of the habitats in which they occur.
Consider the above photo—taken the same day as those in the previous post but annoyingly cluttered with vegetation that partially obstructs the view of the beetle. This was actually the first photograph that I took that day, and while the foliage may be considered an aesthetic distraction, it nevertheless provides valuable information about the natural history of the beetle. My impression from the past few years of observation is that adult beetles actually spend more time foraging in the sparsely vegetated areas surrounding these more open areas. I presume they are more likely to encounter prey in areas where some vegetation exists, and also the vegetation provides opportunities for shade, which the adults actively seek out during the hottest parts of the day. Most collectors and photographers do not notice beetles foraging amongst the vegetation, but instead see them only after their approach has caused the beetle to flee out into the more open areas—where they are then collected/photographed.
© Ted C. MacRae 2013