Entomology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Journal of Insect Behavior 19:2 (March 2006), pp. 251–263; doi 10.1007/s10905-006-9021-8 http://springerlink.metapress.com/content/104914/ Copyright © 2006 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. Used by permission.


The larvae of the tiger beetle, Cicindela hirticollis Say, inhabit sandy shoreline areas that flood periodically. This species has declined over much of its range and at least one subspecies is near extinction, possibly as a result of human alteration of waterways. In addition to physiological tolerance for anoxia, the larvae have physical and behavioral adaptations to avoid drowning. We hypothesized that C. hirticollis larvae would exhibit behavioral responses to soil moisture change and flooding because, unlike most other tiger beetles, they frequently relocate their burrows. Our laboratory studies demonstrated that larvae select surface soil moisture levels of 7–50% saturation in which to dig new burrows. Within 96 h of immersion, most larvae abandon burrows and larvae do not form new burrows in darkness. Larvae may relocate when flooded, suggesting a previously undocumented mechanism for dispersal; however, dams often eliminate suitable habitat areas downstream, suggesting that this behavior may be detrimental in riverine populations. Because larvae move during daylight hours, they also are likely to suffer mortality from trampling due to human recreational activity.

Included in

Entomology Commons