Cicindela fulgida westbournei Calder, 1922
Crimson Saltflat Tiger Beetle, westbournei subspecies
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Basis for Listing
The crimson saltflat tiger beetle (westbournei subspecies) was first observed in Minnesota in 1978 in Kittson County. A second location was discovered about two miles to the south in 1981. There are no other localities of this subspecies known in Minnesota. The two known locations were revisited in 2000 and 2004, and both locations were underwater with dense growth of cattails as a result of the roadside ditches at these sites being deepened. Although it appears that this subspecies no longer occurs at the sites where it was previously documented, there is potentially suitable habitat in the state that has not yet been surveyed. The crimson saltflat tiger beetle (westbournei subspecies) was listed as a threatened species in 1996.
Adult crimson saltflat tiger beetles (westbournei subspecies) are small, averaging 10-11 mm (0.39-0.43 in.) long, and they are dark metallic red (some populations have occasional blue or green specimens) with 3 well-separated lunulate ivory markings on each wing cover. Unlike C. fulgida fulgida, which is first bright red and then darkens with age, the subspecies westbournei is dark throughout adulthood.
The crimson saltflat tiger beetle (westbournei subspecies) is found in open, sparsely vegetated, moist saltflats (often in shallow roadside ditches) with salt grass (Distichlis spicata), red saltwort (Salicornia rubra), and a thin crust of magnesium sulfate. It has the same specialized habitat requirements as C. fulgida fulgida (Willis 1967), but is found further north.
Biology / Life History
Adult crimson saltflat tiger beetles (westbournei subspecies) emerge in the fall (as early as mid-August), begin hunting until colder weather, and then burrow underground for the winter. They re-emerge in early spring (mid-May), begin mating and laying eggs, and then slowly die-off as the summer progresses.
Conservation / Management
Changes in hydrology that result in drainage or flooding of habitat are a potential threat to this subspecies, as are run-off from roadways, roadside vegetation management, pesticide application on nearby fields, heavy vehicle traffic, and conversion of sites for agricultural uses (Steffens 2005).
Conservation Efforts in Minnesota
It is not certain if the crimson saltflat tiger beetle (westbournei subspecies) still survives in Minnesota. Further work to locate and survey undisturbed saline areas in northwestern Minnesota is needed to assess this subspecies' population status in Minnesota.