Thursday, June 22, 2017

Blodgett Peak Bioblitz Report

Back on April 22, 2016, I sat down with a City of Colorado Springs parks official to discuss my idea for having a bioblitz at one of the parks or open spaces in the city. He was enthusiastic enough to turn that concept into four bioblitz events as part of this year's 20th anniversary of TOPS - Trails and Open Spaces. Our first event was held Friday and Saturday, June 16-17, at Blodgett Peak Open Space in the extreme northwest corner of Colorado Springs, up in the foothills and mountains. Here is what happened.

Blodgett Peak from "Base Camp"

First, let me express how grateful I am to City personnel for their organization, and furnishing everything from vehicles to food for the volunteer science teams. Without their hard work in planning, and in coordinating with other City departments, we could not have achieved any of our goals.

The Mammal Team checking traps

A bioblitz, for those not familiar, is usually a 24-hour event designed to record as many species of organisms in a given location as possible. The resulting data often sheds new light on what plants and animals occupy the ecosystem. County and state records for species are not uncommon; and even species new to science have been discovered at bioblitzes. The Blodgett Peak event included scientists looking at mammals, birds, plants, fungi, reptiles and amphibians, and of course invertebrates.

Observations are being recorded on the iNaturalist website. So far, the Blodgett Open Space Bioblitz project has recorded 419 observations tallying 279 "species," which range from actual species to genus-, tribe-, or family-level classification, or even higher. All of this has been accomplished with only seventeen people uploading their records and images. The identifications are vetted by professional experts and citizen scientists from around the globe. Reports continue to trickle in, so keep an eye on this project.

The species tote boards filled up quickly

What did the invertebrate team discover? We started out by setting up three blacklight stations to attract moths and other nocturnal insects Friday night. We had a long wait for darkness, but just past dusk the insects started flying in. We also heard a Northern Pygmy Owl, which was something of a surprise in itself. One of our stations was at the entrance to the Open Space, right by the parking lot, and at the lowest elevation possible. Another station, unmanned, was placed well up the slope and just off of a trail in mostly scrub oat habitat. The last station was placed at an overlook even higher up, where mixed conifer forest habitat begins. Getting to the uphill stations was strenuous exercise.

Without a working flash on either of my two cameras, I was unable to document many of our nighttime visitors, but among our more spectacular species were these, imaged by my wife, Heidi:

Hesperophylax sp. caddisfly

Geometer moth, Euchlaena sp.

Owlet moth, Ulolonche disticha

Acrea Moth, Estigmene acrea

Vashti Sphinx moth, Sphinx vashti

Raspberry Pyrausta moth, Pyrausta signatalis

Spotted Tussock Moth, Lophocampa maculata

The next day came early, given the late night prior, but we persisted and found considerably more interesting species, from grassland habitats to thick forest:

A mating pair of Polyphemus Moths discovered by Tim Leppek

Erik Ostrum netted this gorgeous Two-tailed Swallowtail

Anicia (Variable) Checkerspots were abundant

Horse flies, family Tabanidae, found us!

One of the Vogels netted this male Twelve-spotted Skimmer dragonfly

Putnam's Cicadad, Platypedia putnami was heard, but seldom seen

Pale Snaketail dragonfly, Ophiogomphus severus

Giant Lady Beetle, Anatis lecontei

Male robber fly, Cyrtopogon willistoni

Emerald Flower Scarab, Euphoria fulgida

Special thanks to: Tim Leppek for lending his amazing knack for spotting cryptic insects, and his quality images of them; Erik Ostrum for coming all the way down from the Ft. Collins area to share his expertise in Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths); Sam Johnson for his lifelong expertise in Lepidoptera; Emilie Gray for sharing her own expertise and some equipment; Bell Mead for manning our Mile High Bug Club Booth for the entire day on Saturday; the Vogel family for setting up one of the blacklight stations Friday, and energetically and enthusiastically searching for more species on Saturday.

Several organizations had booths at the bioblitz

We're just getting started with these bioblitzes, so hopefully some of you can join us for the next one, Friday and Saturday, July 14-15 at Jimmy Camp Creek Park on the eastern fringe of Colorado Springs. This is a grassland and sandstone bluffs ecosystem, with a quality riparian corridor and even stands of Ponderosa Pine on the ridges overlooking the creek. It is where we found that stray Mexican Silverspot butterfly this spring, so who knows what else awaits discovery there.

As close to the top as we got (and were allowed)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

What a Spider!

Sometimes you find something that you think might be a major discovery, only to learn that is not the case. Does it diminish your enthusiasm for the whole experience? Not at all. That is especially true when you find something as colorful as a male of the jumping spider Euophrys monadnock. Your expertise is in fact enhanced no matter what expectations you start out with.

The morning of June 8 I found myself granted access to part of Cheyenne Mountain State Park where the public is...."discouraged" from going. It is close, too close, to NORAD installations on the mountain, an important part of national security. One of the perks of being a park volunteer is getting opportunities like this to investigate more pristine and unique habitats.

Anyway, on the ground beneath Ponderosa Pines and understory thickets of Gambel's Oak and other shrubs, I spotted a little (3-4 millimeters) jumping spider hopping over the grass and leaf litter. My initial assumption was that it had to be a species of Habronattus. Members of that genus are often about the same size, usually ground-dwellers rather than arboreal, and frequently adorned with ornate colors in the male gender. Colorado also appears to be an epicenter of Habronattus diversity. I captured the spider in a plastic vial so I could get better images later.

Imagine how puzzled I was when, back at home, an internet search could find no matches with any Habronattus species. I think I finally "Googled" something like "Salticidae, black, orange legs," and lo and behold, I got some image results for Euophrys monadnock. It was not recorded (yet) for Colorado in Bugguide, by online standby. Additional research did find several records of the species for Colorado, even of recent vintage.

The Colorado Spider Survey, based at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science* and supervised by Dr. Paula Cushing, is an amazing resource. There, I found records of this species from Roxborough State Park in Douglas County, on August 9, 2014; Upper Maxwell Falls in Jefferson County, July 29, 2010; Lump Gulch in Gilpin County, June 24, 2009; and 1.6 miles along FR 175 NW of Mt. Pisgah, also in Gilpin County, on August 10, 2009. Using the World Spider Catalog, which has PDF files of almost all the scientific publications devoted to spiders, I found perhaps the original record of Euophrys monadnock for Colorado: collected in the 1890s in "West Cliff," now spelled "Westcliffe," by Theodore Cockerell. The species is one of northerly latitudes and high elevation, found across Canada and south to California, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and along the Rockies.

A Wikipedia article on the species explains the species was first described in 1891 by James Henry Emerton, a preeminent arachnologist of his day. The male gender, anyway, certainly cannot be confused with any other spider. The female is more....subdued, shall we say, but that is the case for most jumping spiders where there is often extreme sexual dimorphism (graphic differences between genders).

The male makes full use of his contrasting colors in displaying to a female. He lifts his front legs, which are adorned with thick brushes of black hair. He also lifts his third pair of legs to expose those bright orange femora, and orients the fourth pair of legs such that the female can see those orange femora as well. Jumping spiders are, unlike web-building spiders, highly visual, with acute eyesight that is not approached by any other land invertebrate.

My wife and I managed to get a few pictures of this highly active spider inside a casserole dish at home, before she released the spider outside the park, but at roughly the same elevation, same habitat, and same mountain for that matter. From a scientific perspective, it is usually preferable to retain the specimen, but considering the utter uniqueness of this species, we felt it was unnecessary to sacrifice this one.

Sources: Banks, Nathan. 1895. "The Arachnida of Colorado," Annals of the New York Academy of Science. 8: 415-434.
Bradley, Richard A. 2013. Common Spiders of North America. Berkeley: University of California Press. 271 pp.
Kaston, B.J. 1972. How to Know the Spiders (3rd edition). Dubuque, Iowa: Wm. C. Brown Company Publishers. 272 pp.
Jumping spiders (Arachnida: Araneae: Salticidae) of the worldWorld Spider Catalog

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Window-winged Moths

One is not accustomed to thinking of moths as day-flying creatures, but a surprising number are indeed diurnal. You may simply not always recognize them as moths. A good example are the window-winged moths in the family Thyrididae. They are named for square or rectangular translucent spots in their wings, which may appear to be white or amber in color.

I encountered one of these diminutive insects just the other day, Monday, May 29, in Aiken Canyon Preserve, a property of The Nature Conservancy that features mixed conifer (mostly Ponderosa Pine and juniper) forest, impressive sandstone bluffs and formations, and extensive glades of prairie grasses, yucca, cacti, and herbs. The trail crossed a dry stream bed at one point and I caught sight of something I first thought was just another fly. It landed briefly and revealed itself to be Thyris maculata, a relatively uncommon western insect, but much more widespread in the eastern U.S.

The little moth was perhaps seeking water and/or minerals and was barely pausing, preventing me from getting really crisp images. When I returned home I did a bit of research and found that there are only twelve (12) species in the family Thyrididae known in North America, and few of those are western. The family is mostly pantropical (Old World and New World tropics), and the total number of world species exceeds 760. There are, in fact, over 400 additional species awaiting description at the London Museum of Natural History alone. While our domestic species have a wingspan varying from 6-16 millimeters, many tropical species are larger, with wingspans of 26-34 millimeters.

Thyris maculata from Massachusetts

Thyris maculata does visit flowers for nectar, as I observed in the town of Athol in western Massachusetts in 2015. Even then, the little moths defy attempts to get in-focus pictures. You are more apt to find at least some species, like the "Mournful Thyris," Thyris sepulchralis, licking animal scat. Fresh dung is a real treasure to lots of insects, including many butterflies and true bugs.

What do they eat in the caterpillar stage? They are surprisingly cosmopolitan in their tastes, being generalist feeders. Among their host plants are beans, grapes, cotton, and thoroughworts. The larvae typically roll the leaves of the host plant and tie them with silk; some species bore in the stems or twigs of the host. Thyris maculata has been reared from Clematis and Houstonia. This might explain the moth's extensive range, from Ontario and Quebec south and west to Georgia, Texas, Missouri, New Mexico, Colorado, and even Idaho and Montana. The adult flies anytime between March and October, but especially May through July. Samuel Johnson, a friend and moth expert here in Colorado deduced from my record yesterday that the species has two broods in the Pikes Peak region of Colorado. His own record is from August, 2003.

Dysodia sp. from Rio Rico, Arizona

Yet another genus of window-winged moths that I have come to know is Dysodia. These are slightly larger, heavier-bodied moths which are nocturnal. I have seen them attracted to lights in southern Arizona and the Lower Rio Grande Valley in southernmost Texas. The caterpillars typically roll the leaves of their host plant, forming both a shelter and a comfortable place to dine. There are at least four species of Dysodia in the U.S., and the one in south Texas is likely an undescribed species. So much yet to learn....

Thyris maculata from Massachusetts

Sources: Beadle, David and Seabrooke Leckie. 2012. Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 611 pp.
Covell, Charles V., Jr. 1984. A Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company. 496 pp.
Powell, Jerry A. and Paul A. Opler. 2009. Moths of Western North America. Berkeley: University of California Press. 369 pp.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Another Rarity: Nysa Roadside-Skipper in Colorado

This is what you get for exploring, observing, recording, and being curious: Surprises. I am not well-versed in things butterfly, but I do know when I haven't seen a particular species before. Even if I cannot say anything about a creature in the field, I can go and research it later. Such was the case of the Nysa Roadside-Skipper encountered on Monday, May 15, in Lamar, Prowers County, Colorado.

It always starts innocently enough, and sometimes results from disappointment over something else. I would much rather find interesting wasps, beetles, grasshoppers, and true bugs instead of butterflies, but it so happened that recent bad weather (a cold snap a couple weeks ago and heavy rains more recently) left little to find besides Lepidoptera in Lamar. Some Lepidopterist out there is going to make me envious by finding a cool wasp now.

So, my wife, Heidi, and our mutual friend Jill White Smith, took the field looking for birds and whatever other wildlife we could see. Jill is a very accomplished photographer. You can see her work at Nature Made Photography on Facebook, in fact. She does "people photography," too, as she puts it. She is also very generous and welcoming, and eagerly showed us around to her favorite haunts.

One of those habitats is an abandoned, unpaved road that is quickly becoming part of a dune or sandhill adjacent to the riparian corridor of Willow Creek, south of the Lamar Community College campus. Flies, damselflies, a few bees, and butterflies flew up every few steps. I happened to notice one small one land in the road, and I focused my camera. I could tell it was a skipper, but not one I had ever seen before. I had left my field guides at home, but that only served to build suspense.

We got home from the three-plus hour drive around eleven at night. After unloading the car, I consulted my Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Thanks to Jim Brock and Kenn Kaufman, I quickly found my mystery skipper: the Nysa Roadside-skipper, Amblyscirtes nysa. The only "problem" was that the range map for the species does not include Colorado. Heidi did a bit more research and found only one Colorado record online at Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA), and no Colorado records on Bugguide.net. I consulted an old book, Butterflies and Moths of the Rocky Mountain States, and found no historical records for Colorado.

What do we know about this insect? Its known range is from Mexico, southeast Arizona, southern New Mexico, and the western two-thirds of Texas north and east through Oklahoma and the eastern two-thirds of Kansas, barely crossing into Missouri. There are between one and three generations ("broods") each year, depending on the geographic location of a given population. The caterpillars feed on grasses. The Kaufman guide adds: "Males perch in wash bottoms, road depressions, or along trails very early n the morning before retiring to shade for the afternoon." This guy was overdue for a nap, then, at almost 10:00 AM.

We also saw what I thought was a small Common Sootywing, but it turns out what I saw was the dorsal (top) view of this same skipper. I narrowly missed an opportunity to get a shot, but here is one of a specimen in Arizona:

© Philip Kline via Bugguide.net

Lastly, while taking images of the skipper, I noticed what might be the cutest beetle ever. I had to bring it home to get images. As near as I can tell, it is a darkling beetle in the genus Edrotes, for which there are also no Bugguide records for Colorado.

Discoveries like these await you, too. You do not have to know what you are looking at to enjoy the moment, capture it in pixels or digital video, and share it with others. You explore and observe often enough and long enough, and you are almost guaranteed to find something truly unusual, or even unknown.

Sources: Brock, Jim P. and Kenn Kaufman. 2003. Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co. 384 pp.
Ferris, Clifford D. and F. Martin Brown. 1981. Butterflies of the Rocky Mountain States. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press. 442 pp.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Breaking: Mexican Silverspot Butterfly Sighted in Colorado

Right place, right time, and with a little help from your friends. That is how discoveries are made. All of those factors came together to verify the spotting of a Mexican Silverspot butterfly, Dione moneta on the eastern edge of Colorado Springs, Colorado on April 18, 2017.

Sharon Milito is a geology lecturer at University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and a retired Colorado Springs School district eleven teacher. She has also been a volunteer with the city for ten years, doing paleontology surveys and acting as a science education consultant. She has, in her volunteer capacity, access to places not open to the public, including Jimmy Camp Creek Park on the very eastern edge of the city.

Sharon and I went scouting on Tuesday, April 18, and she took me to specific locations that seem to have a slightly greater biological diversity in the sprawling former ranch. It is a unique composite of many different habitats including mostly shortgrass prairie punctuated with sandstone bluffs. Some of the bluffs are covered in Ponderosa Pine forest. There is also Jimmy Camp Creek itself, a drainage fed by numerous springs within the property. There is almost always water in the creek, and some surprisingly deep pools in the sandstone bed. Otherwise, lots of mud trampled by cattle that still graze the park.

One of the areas we went to boasted a grove of wild plum, Prunus americana, in full bloom. It was like walking into a fairy tale. Hundreds of butterflies were sipping nectar from the blossoms. Most were Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui, but there were also Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta), Milbert's Tortoiseshell (Nymphalis milbertis), Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus), Marine Blue (Leptotes marina), and several Monarchs (Danaus plexippus). Most of the Monarchs seem to have had a rough migration up from the south. The whole morning scene was mesmerizing and enchanting.

Eventually, Sharon called me over to ask "what about this one here?" and pointed out a butterfly that had me perplexed initially. At first I thought it was a Variegated Fritillary, which would be expected at this time of year. The wing shape was a little odd, though, and when I glimpsed the underside, it was studded with large, silver spots. Wow, a Gulf Fritillary. That is not a very common butterfly in these parts. I got several images of the insect and we went our merry way. Later, I posted what I thought was our somewhat significant find to the Facebook group "Arthropods Colorado" for more folks to enjoy.

Enter Robb Hannawacker. He raised the stakes substantially higher by proposing that the butterfly was in fact a Mexican Silverspot, Dione moneta. I was embarrassed to admit that until he mentioned it I was not even aware of the species at all, let alone where it is supposed to occur. Robb mentioned the identifying markings, and how our specimen matched them, and it is now pretty obvious that is what we have.

According to my copy of the Kaufman Field Guide to Butterflies of North America, the Mexican Silverspot "Strays to south Texas, rarely to southwest and Big Bend region. More at home in mid-elevation tropical woodlands but reported to breed sporadically in lower Rio Grande Valley....Recorded late spring to late fall (multiple broods in Mexico." The butterfly['s normal range extends from Mexico through Central America to Brazil. The larval foodplants are passion vines, which do not occur in Colorado.

The most recent northern record for the species in the online database of Butterflies and Moths of North America was on May 8, 2005 in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, by Christopher Rustay. As near as I can tell, this is the first record for Colorado, at least of recent vintage. Please alert me to additional historical records. Thank you. Now, go forth and see what amazing species you can find.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Jeers for Cheerios? Not so Fast

I am not sure whether it is a good thing or a bad thing that politics and consumerism are infiltrating the world of entomology, but in the case of General Mills versus....science, controversy could be a good thing if it informs the cereal-buying public. The well-intentioned corporate advertising campaign aimed at benefiting pollinators has hit a few snags, and the ramifications for future like-minded endeavors are complex. Partnerships with conservation organizations are, however, an excellent outcome.

© Creativity-online.com

When the Honey Nut Cheerios® mascot "Buzz the Bee" disappeared from the cereal box to call attention to the plight of honey bees (and ostensibly the decline of all pollinators), it seemed like a genius marketing gimmick. Add the promise of receiving a packet of "wildflower" seeds to sow in your garden if you simply request them, and you have a win-win-win love affair at first blush. Who could object to stimulating environmentally-friendly action on behalf of imperiled insects like the Rusty-patched Bumble Bee, just added to the Endangered Species List? Well, it turns out that knowledgeable botanists and entomologists can object, and do so strenuously and effectively.

The major problem stems from the seed packets that General Mills is dispensing, in partnership with Veseys Seeds. They are a "one size fits all" solution to a complex problem, and therefore no solution at all according to many scientists weighing in. There have been charges that certain flowers in the seed mix are not only not native to North America, but invasive species in some areas. Homeowners are certainly better off purchasing native cultivars at their local nursery, if only because native plants are better suited to local soils and regional climate.

Another frequent complaint directed at virtually all pro-bee propaganda is that the sole intended beneficiary is the honey bee. Apiculture, it could be argued convincingly, is an industry, complete with large scale marketing, lobbyists, and other attendant business arms. The honey bee is not native, having been brought to the settlement of Jamestown in 1621 or 1622. Today, migrant beekeepers truck their hives across the country to pollinate various orchard crops, especially almonds. While Honey Nut Cheerios™ contains no nuts, it does contain "natural almond flavor." Interesting.

This is not to say that General Mills is without good deeds for pollinators in...general. Check this out, from personal correspondence with my friend Matthew Shepherd, Communications director for the Xerces Society, a non-profit organization devoted to invertebrate conservation:

"GM [General Mills] is partnering with the NRCS [Natural Resources Conservation Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture] to support a half-dozen new staff biologists, who will be employed by Xerces and based in NRCS offices. GM and the NRCS have each committed to providing $2 million—a total of $4 million—over a 5-year period. You’ll find more information about what the staff will do and where they’ll be based at here. For an overview of the partnership, and the press release, [click on the links].

"We’ve [Xerces] got other partnerships with various GM brands (Muir Glen, Cascadian Farm, Annie’s), but any dollars from those, often tied to sales of a product, will be part of the $2 million above.

"Xerces also has a contract with GM to work with their suppliers to create habitat on farms. We’ve already done some of this in California, planting hedgerows along tomato fields and hedgerows and meadows in almond orchards, and in Washington around blueberries, but this will be spreading across the country to farms supplying all manner of products. This is another multi-year agreement. I’m afraid that I don’t know what the total dollar amount will be over the years. Hundreds of thousands for sure...."

I happen to like General Mills and Cascadian Farms products, so I am happy to be benefiting the Xerces Society when I make those purchases. I am also glad that I learned what is going on behind the headlines, which were far from flattering initially. Meanwhile, my next post will revisit a workshop I attended back in March that speaks to the future of pollinator conservation at the homeowner-level. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Predator and Prey: Ants versus "Lions" and "Tigers"

My last post here chronicled predation on termites by ants in the wake of swarming events in my neighborhood. Today I shall turn the tables and demonstrate that ants are not immune to predators themselves. Antlions and tiger beetles are among the few predatory insects that kill and eat ants. Ants can bite, and either sting, or spray formic acid to defend themselves. One cannot blame a potential predator for avoiding that kind of trauma when ants are not much more than an hors d' oeuvres anyway.

Antlion pit of Myrmeleon sp. larva

While looking for tiger beetles in Lake Pueblo State Park, Colorado on March 18, I was surprised to find the funnel trap of an antlion larva in the middle of a game trail. Usually, the pitfall traps of antlions are clustered, and situated in sheltered areas like beneath a rock overhang, at the base of a tree, or other location where rain seldom if ever reaches them. Since the only genus of antlions in the U.S. that makes such traps is Myrmeleon, I knew that had to be the critter lurking at the bottom of the pit.

Antlion larva from Kansas

Buried just beneath the dusty sand was a single, chubby larva, studded with spines on various parts of its body, and with menacing sickle-like jaws. Nearly blind, the insect relies on its sensitivity to vibration to detect potential trouble or potential prey. When an ant or other terrestrial insect blunders into the antlion's steep-walled trap, the larva becomes alert and proactive. It may use those jaws to fling sand onto its victim, hastening its descent to the bottom of the funnel. The predator then grabs its prey and injects it with enzymes that paralyze it and begin the digestive process.

Adult antlion, Myrmeleon exitialis from Colorado

Antlions go through complete metamorphosis, so the larva eventually constructs a cocoon of sand and silk in which it pupates. An adult antlion, more than making up for its youthful ugliness with its delicate wings and slender body, emerges from the pupa at a later date.

Blowout Tiger Beetle, Cicindela lengi, attacking a harvester ant

The fate of ants in the jaws of an antlion may seem morbid, but it is still better than what happens to ants caught by adult tiger beetles. After two consecutive days of unsuccessful searching for tiger beetles closer to home in Colorado Springs, I finally found at least three Blowout Tiger Beetles, Cicindela lengi, on the afternoon of March 23. I was witness to their ability to swiftly dispatch lone worker ants with their huge, toothy jaws.

Open wide....

Most tiger beetle species are agile daytime hunters that haunt sandy habitats like the sandhill bordering the vacant lot where I found these specimens. The insects run quickly, stop, then run again. They fly a short distance if spooked by a potential predator. Their eyesight is keen, vastly more sensitive to motion than a person; but they focus slowly. They literally outrun their eyesight when pursuing prey, and must stop to refocus before rejoining the chase. This herky-jerky hunting strategy is still effective, and few insects spotted by a tiger beetle will live to tell the tale.

Off with its head!

Tiger beetles appear to have the speed and power to attack insects and other invertebrates at least as large as they are, but most of their victims are quite small. Ants seem to be near the limit of what they will take. They make short work of even the feisty Western Harvester Ants, Pogonomyrmex occidentalis, that are abundant in Colorado Springs. The jaws of the beetle quickly dismember the ant, leaving a trail of carnage around the beetle. The beetle's next victim may be a tiny, unidentifiable invertebrate it plucks from between sand grains.

Another C. lengi surrounded by the remains of its Formica sp. ant lunch

Most tiger beetle enthusiasts are fond of remarking that they are glad tiger beetles do not get any larger in size than they do. Indeed, I would not be prowling around dunes and beaches if there were even raccoon-sized tiger beetles in the neighborhood. Since they are much smaller than that, I recommend going in search of them. Their beauty and behaviors are sure to capture your curiosity and sense of wonder.