Center for Systematic Entomology, Gainesville, Florida


Date of this Version



Kirmse S, Wiesner J. 2021. Nocturnal multi-species roosts of Cicindelidae (Coleoptera) in a Neotropical lowland rainforest. Insecta Mundi 0878: 1–9.


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Published on July 30, 2021 by Center for Systematic Entomology, Inc. P.O. Box 141874 Gainesville, FL 32614-1874 USA


Tiger beetles (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae) are frequent predators on the forest floor of the Amazon rainforest. We report on five diurnal sympatric tiger beetle species belonging to the genera Odontocheila Laporte de Castelnau and Poecilochila Rivalier in a terra firme rainforest in South Venezuela. We observed adult beetles for a full year and monitored their nocturnal roosts along two forest paths during the rainy season in 1998. We found up to four species communally roosting on low vegetation along the paths during the night. Multi-species roosts were more often observed than conspecific communal roosts. Although the individual composition of the nocturnal roosts changed frequently, distinct plants were used for several days to weeks. The most individual-rich roosts comprised 10 or 11 adult tiger beetles roosting on one leaf. Observed nocturnal roosts were dominated by O. angulipenis W. Horn and O. margineguttata (Dejean). Most mixed roosts included O. confusa (Dejean), O. angulipenis and O. margineguttata. Low abundances and size differences possibly facilitate the coexistence of these five tiger beetle species. The advantage of communal roosting during the rainy season is probably the reinforcement of their chemical defense.

The family of tiger beetles (Cicindelidae Latreille, 1802) currently includes 2897 species (Wiesner 2020). The Neotropics is the second richest biogeographical region of the world with about 634 species (Wiesner 2020). Fifteen Neotropical genera are recognized within the subtribe Odontocheilina W. Horn, 1899 (Wiesner 2020). The most species-rich genus within this subtribe is Odontocheila Laporte de Castelnau, 1843 comprising 78 described species, while the genus Poecilochila Rivalier, 1969 includes 11 species (Moravec 2019, 2020; Wiesner 2020). Cicindelidae are primarily diurnal predators on insects and spiders with most species hunting on bare ground (Pearson and Vogler 2001; Rewicz and Jaskuła 2018) and a few species that are arboreal (Marohomsalic et al. 2021). Most species of Cicindelidae show narrow habitat specialization (Pearson 1985; Zerm and Adis 2001; Jaskuła et al. 2019). Forest species are principally diurnal and fly to temporary roosts in the low vegetation to escape floor predators (Pearson and Anderson 1985). Several species have been found roosting on the leaves of undergrowth bushes during the night (Cassola and Pearson 2001). In Carabidae and Cicindelidae, aggregations of several thousand individuals have been observed during inactive periods in winter quarters or hiding places (Arndt et al. 2005). Roosting and aggregate perching behavior in tiger beetles is a readily observed and quantifiable pattern in tropical forest habitats (Pearson and Anderson 1985; Bhargav and Uniyal 2008). To investigate this roosting behavior of tiger beetles, we monitored forest floor species in a terra firme rainforest in southern Venezuela for a full year. We provide detailed data on communal roosts along two forest paths during the rainy season in 1998.