Entomology Collections, Miscellaneous


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Copyright 2014 Joseph A. Palmer & Kay Klatt.


Tiger beetles have long been admired for their mix of beauty, speed, and ferocious hunting abilities (Pearson 2011). The tiger beetles are some of the fastest insects on the planet with the Australian species, Cicindela hudsoni being clocked at 2.5meters per second (Merrit 1999). The tiger beetles run so fast that they are temporarily blinded when they are engaged in the high speed pursuit of their prey (Friedlander 2014). However, despite their speed, and the joy they bring to many enthusiasts, tiger beetles are unable to outrun the destruction and degradation of their habitats by human activities, and an estimated 15 percent of the 255 described species and subspecies of North American tiger beetles are now threatened with extinction (Pearson 2011). Several species of tiger beetle are very niche specialized and will only inhabit certain areas where the conditions are just right for their survival (Pearson 2006). The saline wetlands of Lancaster and Saunders counties located in eastern Nebraska are home to one such beetle. An endemic subspecies of the Nevada Tiger Beetle, Cicindela (=Ellipsoptera) nevadica, calls these saline wetlands home. This beetle is aptly named the Salt Creek Tiger beetle, Cicindela (=Ellipsoptera) nevadica lincolniana, due to its presence only along Little Salt Creek and associated tributaries (Spomer, et al. 2007). The olive-colored, 5mm long beetles are dependent on the saline wetlands, and due to the rapid destruction of their habitat by farmers and developers, are now threatened with extinction (Spomer, et al.2007). The population numbers for the C. n. lincolniana range from 150-1000 adults a year, making this species one of the most endangered insects in North America (Higley & Spomer 2001). The following paper gives a brief overview of the natural history of the C. n. lincolniana and outlines the efforts of the Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in its attempt to captive rear this species, and save Nebraska’s native tigers and the wetlands they call home.