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Tiger beetles are a high speed predator, both as larvae and adults. There are over 2,600 species found worldwide. They are so fast that their eyes can’t gather enough light to process visual information while running and the beetles have to pause during pursuit to regain sight of their target. The fastest known tiger beetle can run up to 8 kilometers per hour (5 mph) which is comparable to a human running 772.5 kph (480 mph) when adjusted for body length (Yong, 2014). The adults are sexually dimorphic, with males possessing short white hairs on the inside of the tarsi of the prothoracic legs whereas females do not have these hairs. They display a unique breeding behavior called mate guarding wherein males continue to hold onto the female after copulation to prevent other males from mating with her. Tiger beetles are considered an indicator species or sentinel organisms for environmental health, due to their diet of small invertebrates and specialized breeding requirements. An estimated 15 percent of the 255 described species and subspecies of North American tiger beetles are now threatened with extinction (Pearson, 2011). The saline wetlands of Lancaster county in eastern Nebraska are home to one such beetle, an endemic subspecies of the Nevada Tiger Beetle, Cicindela nevadica (Palmer & Klatt, 2014). This beetle is aptly named the Salt Creek tiger beetle, Cicindela nevadica lincolniana, due to its presence only along Little Salt Creek and associated tributaries (Spomer, et al. 2007).
The following paper gives a brief overview of the natural history of the Salt Creek tiger beetle, Cicindela nevadica lincolniana, and the current progress in the captive management and reintroduction of Nebraska’s endangered tiger beetle.