A Beetle Faster than its own Eyesight

Tiger Beetles are found all over the world, but mostly in the hot and dry areas of our planet. Although there are over 2,500 species of this beetle, they have many of the same characteristics and behaviors.

The one behavior that is most notable is the speed of the Tiger Beetle. They are some of the fastest of insects, with some species being able to run over 5 mph. Given their small size of ½” makes that speed even more amazing. Now take that up to human scale in comparison, we would be able to run over 450 mph if we had the same speed capability of the Tiger Beetle. Having slender bodies and long legs, they are built for speed. That speed gives this small beetle a great advantage when it is hunting prey. Although they have large eyes that give them keen eyesight, they are actually so fast, that they outrun their ability to see or focus while running. So, the Tiger Beetle uses its great vision to spot its prey, and then use their lightning bolt speed to track down the target. However, running so fast makes their world become a blur. The Tiger Beetle will actually stop the pursuit long enough to focus again, regain their focus and again shoot off at top speed toward their prey. Stopping to re-focus does not affect the outcome of the pursuit, because being that fast, they can afford to pause and simply make up the short amount of time lost with their speedy legs.

You would think that running so fast that you cannot even see where you are running would make it quite dangerous. To equip the Tiger Beetle even better to deal with this speed, they have flexible antennae that are extremely sensitive. Couple that with their super fast reaction time and the Tiger Beetle can stop on a dime or avoid an obstacle even while blinded. These Antennae can move just as quickly, constantly moving and bending around corners, obstacles and even downward to sense a drop or stop of the path. This keeps the Tiger Beetle safely on course until it can stop and take a break to quickly refocus.

Once the Tiger Beetle catches its prey, they do not have courteous table like manners. They are quite ferocious when attacking and eating. With very large jaws, large curved mandibles and hooks in their abdomen; they are equipped for destruction. They use those cutting tools to chop and violently cut up their prey and consume them. And if that is not quite gruesome enough, they finish off their meal by vomiting digestive fluid on them to completely eat, dissolve and drink up every last drop. They are so violent in their attack that they are sometimes found with insect parts (as past evidence of the kill) still stuck in their attack weapons, even when they are not feeding.

Even while still in the Larvae stage, they are quite ferocious. The Tiger Beetle egg is laid in a vertical burrow that is about 2’ deep. As they develop into the larvae stage, they wait near the top of the burrow for prey to walk by. As a potential victim walks by they quickly pop their head out of the burrow and attach with its jaws. They keep part of their abdomen still in the burrow, so they can anchor their bodies in the walls with their abdomen hooks. This allows the larvae to hold onto their victim and drag it back into the burrow for meal time.

The Tiger Beetle also uses these jaws during mating. As a male finds a suitable mate, he will hop on her back and hold on to her with his powerful jaws to reproduce. But he does not give up at that point. He continues to hold on to her, clamped onto her with his jaws. The male rides her in this manner to keep away any other possible male suitors.  

Although several speedy Tiger Beetle species do live here Nashville, Tennessee, they usually stay outside and actually work as a good garden protector of other pests. They are not aggressive towards humans, but could bite if you pick it up. So, allow the Tiger Beetle to do its job as protector of your garden and do not handle it unless you want to get a pinch from those powerful jaws. As always keep our family at Certified Pest Control Nashville in mind for honest, effective and affordable service in the Nashville and surrounding county area of Tennessee.