Cicindela lepida Dejean, 1831
Ghost Tiger Beetle
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Basis for Listing
The little white tiger beetle, also known as the ghost tiger beetle, was first observed in Minnesota in 1922 in Anoka County; additional specimens were collected here until 1932. Sometime between 1932 and 1954 however, the dunes at this location were leveled for a school and housing development. There are other historic records of this species from Scott (1923), Ramsey (1924), Hennepin (1927), and Polk (1936) counties, and modern records from Wabasha (1965, 1972), Lac Qui Parle (1967, 1971), and Morrison (1997, 2004) counties. The Lac Qui Parle County site, which was formerly pastureland with a steep, open, sandy slope, was revisited in 2003 and found to be overgrown with grasses and planted with wildflowers. Given the vulnerability of its habitat, the little white tiger beetle was listed as a threatened species in Minnesota in 1996.
Adult little white tiger beetles are small, averaging 10-11 mm (0.39-0.43 in.) long. They are mostly white with brown mottling centrally on the wing covers. Their head and thorax are reddish-brown (rarely greenish) and the legs are a pale straw-yellow. In the hand, there is a slight pre-apical notch on each wing-cover, placing it in the subgenus Ellipsoptera.
The little white tiger beetle is found on steep, open, blowing sand dunes.
Biology / Life History
Adult little white tiger beetles emerge in the summer (as early as mid-June). They begin hunting, mating, and laying eggs, and slowly die-off as summer progresses. They are usually gone by the end of August.
Conservation / Management
The little white tiger beetle is a habitat specialist that requires protection of dune areas. The best time to survey for this species is mid-summer (Steffens 2005).
Conservation Efforts in Minnesota
It is not certain if the little white tiger beetle still survives in Minnesota. Further surveys of the Lac Qui Parle, Scott, Polk, and Wabasha county sites are needed to determine if the species is still present in these areas. Additional surveys should also include the Prairie Smoke Dunes Scientific and Natural Area, which Steffens (2005) reports as having potential habitat including a number of open sand blowouts.