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Carolina Tiger Beetle (Megacephala carolina)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Carolina Tiger Beetle.

 Updated: 5/21/2019; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Large jaws, metallic coloring and stark white legs make the Carolina Tiger Beetle a real standout and a popular addition to collector showcases.



Carolina Tiger Beetles are bright and colorful, therefore they are collected and killed for display, a practice also implemented with butterflies. The metallic, emerald green body is gem-like. The top part of the dorsal (back) side has a reddish-copper gleam. A large white dot at the end of the body marks the bottom edge of each elytron (wing covering). To all that, add bright white antennae, legs and mouth parts. It is a rare color combination and that attracts many beetle and bug collectors. This collecting by humans, coupled with habitat destruction, has led to a decrease in Carolina Tiger Beetle numbers and dispersion.

The Carolina Tiger Beetle is a ferocious predator of many pest insects, so having healthy populations is beneficial. As adults, these predatory beetles consume many insects that humans consider a nuisance: spittlebugs, flies, caterpillars, spiders and ants. This particular species may be considered a natural turf-protector. A study showed it consumes insects that are known to kill the short grass seen on pitches, football fields, and golf courses.The hunting style of this beetle accounts for its 'tiger' moniker. Larvae are worm-like creatures and they reside in vertical tunnels, latching onto the side of the burrow with a hook-like feature on their body. They wait, with their mighty jaws at the surface of the hole. When an unaware insect walks over it, the larva quickly clamps its jaws on the insect, drags it down into the hole, and eats it. To be successful at hiding and hunting, larvae need undisturbed soil or sand. Human foot traffic, ATVs, bikes and other off-road vehicles destroy both the burrow and the insect living in it.
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Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Cicindelidae
          Genus: Megacephala
            Species: carolina
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Megacephala carolina
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 5mm to 10mm (0.20in to 0.39in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: green, white, ivory, black
Descriptors: flying, shiny, metallic, emerald, mouth, jaws, bulging, eyes, spot, white legs, purple, orange; antennae
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Beetle Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American Beetle insect
1
Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
3
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
4
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
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Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
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Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
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Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.