National Geographic

Meet the Ferocious “Tigers” of the Beetle World


Tiger beetles get their name from their behavior, according to John Wagner, a biologist at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.

I met Wagner a couple of times during the bioblitz and we talked about beetles, a subject he knows a lot about.

The two tiger beetles in this specimen bottle were found by a colleague of Wagner’s under tree bark. They’re a nice size, Wagner remarked, because many of the beetles he ordinarily works with are the size of pin heads.

Different types of tiger beetle larvae prefer different types of soil, Wagner explained. That’s why different beetles are found in different habitats.

So what is the behavior that gives tiger beetles their common name? “They’re tigerlike predators,” Wagner said. “They lurk around and rush out to grab things that are passing, chewing them up like tigers,” he said.

Who knew that these pretty irridescent beetles were such beasts!

Watch Wagner describe these tiger beetles in this video:

Video and photo  by David Braun