This species, the six-spotted tiger beetle, secretes a volatile chemical from its abdomen when captured.
The upperside of this species is a striking, shiny metallic green or bluish-green. These beetles have two small, white markings along the sides of each forewing, and a small, white dash mark on the rear of each wing cover (three to six white spots total). Sometimes the white markings are absent.
Total length: 0.4 to 0.6 inches (10-14 mm).
Similar species: Six-spotted tiger beetles may be confused with several other metallic green species with pale markings. However, the western range and grassland habitat of several of these, such as the green claybank tiger beetle (Cicindela limbalis) and the cochise tiger beetle (Cicindela pimeriana) do not overlap with the range and habitat of the six-spotted tiger beetle. Several green subspecies of the festive tiger beetle (Cicindela scutellaris) do occur in the same area and habitat, but they are not as brightly colored, they have stouter bodies with more rounded wing covers, and the females have dark upper lips. The green form of the northern barrens tiger beetle (Cicindela patruela) often occurs in the same habitat as the six-spotted tiger beetle, but it can be distinguished by its duller color and a line in the middle of its wing covers. The closely related and extremely similar Laurentian tiger beetle (Cicindela denikei) is distinguished by its larger size, differences in genitalia, and its non-overlapping range; they occur in boreal forests, whereas six-spotted tiger beetles occur in hardwood and pine forests.
The six-spotted tiger beetle is by far the most easily recognized and familiar of the North American tiger beetles. It is frequently observed, has a fairly wide distribution, and is often common. Its natural history traits are relatively well-studied. Tiger beetles are sufficiently large to be observed from a distance with binoculars; they are now more readily recognized as more and more field guides are produced. Tiger beetles are often found in association with other rare species and are excellent teaching material for science classes, conservation studies, and nature enthusiasts.
This species occurs across the entire eastern half of the United States with the exception of the Deep South and the Florida Panhandle, and extends into southeastern Canada.
Six-spotted tiger beetles live in loamy and sandy soils in eastern hardwood forests and are occasionally found in open pine forests. They are solitary and most often found along trails and dirt paths, and in sunflecks on the forest floor, as well as at the forest edge. Larval burrows are found along woodland trails or forest edges, often near logs or fallen branches on the forest floor. This species is often considered a woodland path species; individuals are quick to take flight or hide in grass. They are more active at lower temperatures than most other species.
Adults are primarily active in the spring from April to early July. Some can be found in small numbers until September. This is one of the few species in North America in which adults are primarily active in spring. Adults spend winter in burrows and emerge the following spring. Adult females emerge in spring, but do not mate until early May.
Do you see...?
Active adults One or more adults are seen moving about or at rest.
Adults feeding One or more adults are seen feeding. If possible, record the name of the species or substance being eaten or describe it in the comments field.
Mating A male and female are seen coupled in a mating position, usually with the male on top of the female.
Dead adults One or more dead adults are seen, including those found on roads.
Individuals in a net One or more individuals are seen caught in a net.