Cicindela scutellaris

(Festive Tiger Beetle)


Cicindela scutellaris is a common, variable, widespread tiger beetle whose range extends partially into Alabama and Mississippi. This species prefers open, dry sandy areas and is not associated with water. The Festive Tiger Beetle is a spring/fall species, and adults are normally active from March - May and again from August - October. These gorgeous beetles can appear metallic green, blue, or somewhere in between, depending on the direction and quality of the light reflected from their body. To date, all Alabama populations and those in southern Mississippi belong to the unmarked (or with white markings restricted to the tips of the elytra) subspecies C. scutellaris unicolor.

In north and west Mississippi, there are isolated populations of two additional variants of this species. In approximately the northeastern quarter of Mississippi you can find individuals that appear to be intergrades between the subspecies C. scutellaris lecontei and C. scutellaris unicolor; these populations tend to be quite heavily marked with white. Along the Mississippi River there are scattered populations of a different heavily marked form with metallic red on the elytra; these individuals apparently represent intergrades between the nominate subspecies C. scutellaris scutellaris and C. scutellaris lecontei. Interesting, but very confusing!!