Tiger Beetle
Megacephala carolina
Fam: Carabidae

The Tiger Beetle is 3/4 inch long. They are some of the larger and more brilliantly colored ground beetles in the family Carabidae. For this reason they are a common feature in insect collections. Their antennae have eleven segments and are filiform (threadlike). The head is green and the pronotum fades from a brilliant reddish purple to green in the lateral portion. These beetles have powerful mandibles. The abdominal sternum is reddish then becomes yellowish on the sides. To separate them from other species of Magacephala look for a small yellow apical crescent shape on the wing cover (elytra). Males can be distinguished by having seven visible abdomen segments while females only have six. This beetle is native to nearly every county in South Carolina and inhabits most of the states in the southeast. They are predatory and eat almost anything they can catch, they run and climb quickly, and are difficult to catch. They do have the ability to fly but rarely use it. The most likely time to capture one would be between June and November on the ground at night along woodland paths or shores of ponds. Like most beetles in the Carabidae they are attracted to light.

The female will dig a small hole in the ground where the egg will be laid. After hatching the first instar will dig a burrow where it will continue to grow and feed. Tiger beetle larvae could be described as one of the most gruesome creatures in nature. They have large scythe-like jaws at the front of a stout "S" shaped body so they don’t slide down their deep hole. The larva hides out inside a vertical burrow awaiting its food source which includes a broad range of other insects. When the larva senses prey it lunges out and drags the pray back into the chamber to eat in safety. The larva will remain in its burrow sealing it up between each molt until it emerges as an adult.

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