I photographed this larval T. virginica last week – the larvae are distinctive owing to their large size (about 1.5 to 2 times the typical Cicindela sp larva) and a pale white band about the pronotum.
While the larvae are very shy and hard to approach during the day, at night the larvae are quite tolerant and, with care, are easy to photograph. I have also found that Tetracha larvae are the easiest to “fish” from their burrows as they will readily seize the blade of grass and will hold on fiercely.
Ted has a neat little article on the variation in tiger beetle burrows – its well worth a look – check it out!
With its distinct brown coloration, minor maculations – only two small white spots at the mid-section of the outer edge of each elytron – and larger than almost all other U.S. tiger beetles, Cylindera unipunctata is certainly one of the most unique and well camouflaged cicindelids in the eastern United States.
Another aspect of this species is the elytral sculpting and fine mixture of colors which give the species its brown coloration.
This summer I had the luck to come across the larva of this species. I had began my search by combing over a number of exposed sections of soil in an area where I had previously found adult C. unipunctata.
After unsuccessfully trying to find the larvae in a wooded area, I moved along the cliff-like edge of a small stream and here I noticed a tell-tale hole in the sandy soil. Upon digging down several inches I came across this strange larva; unlike other tiger beetle larvae this one was oddly proportioned – more “chunky” – and larger than usual.
Additionally Knisley and Pearson note that the burrows of this species are markedly curved horizontally toward the bottom of the burrow; I observed this in the burrow I excavated.
I hope to rear this larva through to adulthood and confirm my suspicions…
I think this set of photos of a captive Cicindela larva lunging at prey can speak for itself:
I wanted to capture the amazing moment when a tiger beetle larva captures prey so I took my Canon 7D, set it to 720p, 60 fps in video mode, and waited for the larva to come to the burrow mouth. Once the larva was at the ready I dropped a small prey item, in this case a Red Flour beetle (larva and adult), and dropped it as close to the edge of the tube in which the larva was set up; this process was repeated twice. The strike at the prey was so fast only when the video was played back frame-by-frame was I able to see the process. For the video of each prey items I selected one frame from before the larva struck and one at the moment at the moment of the strike itself.