Cicindela scutellaris scutellaris x scutellaris lecontei -- female
Intergrades are exciting especially this one captured only a very short distance west of the western range of what is regarded to be pure northeastern race lecontei. Pure nominate race individuals are not to be found for quite a distance to the west or northwest. So only a very small amount of nominate race blood in this female. She exhibits maroon on her face and forehead transitioning to green on the rest of her head and pronotum with the dull brown elytra and the maculation typical of the northeast.
Finding this beetle in my neighbor's pasture was the culmination of a hopeless 2-1/2 year search for this species in this county because the proper habitat, upland sandy areas, simply doesn't exist. Clay dominates our county. So whether this lady is transient or a member of a local community remains to be seen. Her colors are right though should there be a population in our area.
This individual represents a new county record for Gage County, Nebraska.
Cicindela formosa formosa x formosa generosa
Since dry sandy upland areas like sand dunes don't exist in my county I decided last fall that my best hope of finding the tiger beetles that make their home in this habitat would be to look for them where humans are using sand. I started examining what the Dept of Roads leaves along the side of the hwy in their dirt depots. In one such depot I found a very promising pile of sand and decided it needed to be revisited in the spring. It looked unused by man and a larval burrow of the Big Sand tiger beetle even appeared to be present on the steep north slope where the sand would be taken from first.
On my 3rd pass (and after scaring up a Bronzed tiger beetle on the north side) around the 25 foot (7.6m) diameter pile of sand a Big Sand tiger beetle was flushed. A few minutes later I found another.
So the question remains as to how this population was started. Did adult beetles fly in and if so, from where, or did larvae come in the original sand and where did it come from?
This beetle was very accommodating and allowed me to watch him catch, kill and eat two ants before he dug himself a burrow in order to escape the afternoon sun. He dug with his mandibles and pushed the sand out underneath himself with his feet. Both beetles were carrying a lot of debris on their backs.
It's been confirmed -- these beetles are new county records for Gage Co. Nebraska.
Found on a suburban road late at night. This is the first time I have seen members of this species hold still--usually I find them in a hyperkinetic state.
Taxonomic note: Recent work has put the New World species of Megacephala back into their own genus, Tetracha Hope, 1838. The BugGuide account for that genus has references.