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Cicindela cursitans LeConte is a small, flightless tiger beetle with a widely scattered distribution in the Great Plains, the Ohio Valley, and the north-central Gulf Coast region. Many aspects of the life history of C. cursitans are poorly known, and the larval stages have remained undescribed until now. We designed experiments to determine specific habitat preference, female oviposition preference, and daily activity cycles of the adults. In addition, we describe the entire pre-adult life history. Adults are most numerous on moist clay soils with sparse to patchy vegetation, but they may also occur in tall-grass prairies. Females oviposit strictly in moist soils consisting of fine particles. Adults are both diurnal and crepuscular, and presumably spend the nighttime hours hiding among vegetation. Larvae occur in the same habitats as the adults and are typically clustered near the bases of plants. The larvae are the smallest of any tiger beetle species described in North America (body length of first instars ¼ 2.6–3.2 mm, second instars ¼ 5.4–6.7 mm, third instars ¼ 8.4–10.1 mm) and most similar in morphology to Cicindela debilis Bates. Knowledge of the life history and habitats used by this species will allow a better understanding of its distribution and abundance, and its association with prairie habitats. This information as well as low dispersal rates may make this species useful for assessment of habitat quality and restoration success.