Cicindela hirticollis

Geographic Range

Cicindela hirticollis, commonly called the hairy-necked tiger beetle, is one of the most widely distributed tiger beetle species in North America, with its subspecies occupying more limited ranges. The subspecies Cicindela hirticollis hirticollis ranges from the southeast U.S. to New York state, and west to the southern Midwest. The subspecies Cicindela hirticollis rugifrons and Cicindela hirticollis rhodensis are present in the New England states and the upper Midwest. Cicindela hirticollis siuslawensis has historically been found near rivers along the pacific coast from central Washington to northern California. (Graves, et al., 1988; Pearson, et al., 2006)


These tiger beetles are typically found in littoral-riparian areas near aquatic environments. Their burrows are located in moist soils that are far enough away from water bodies to avoid being inundated with water. Cicindela hirticollis is most frequently found on the sandy shorelines of rivers, lakes, and oceans. These areas promote the ability of Cicindela hirticollis females to inject their ovipositors into the soil to deposit eggs. After hatching, the larva digs a cylindrical burrow at the site of oviposition. (Pearson, et al., 2006; Schlesinger and Novak, 2011)

Physical Description

Adult Cicindela hirticollis are dull brown in color, and about 12 to 14 mm in length. Adults have hind wings that are transparent and they are folded under the elytra (hard front wings) when at rest. Hairy-neck tiger beetles are also usually well camouflaged in their environment. The color of a beetle usually matches the color of the soil surrounding its burrow site. Larvae are white with yellowish hues.

A key diagnostic feature of Cicindela hirticollis is a visibly hairy thorax during their fall emergence from the ground. This feature gives this species the common name of "hairy-necked". The hairs are degraded and partially lost during overwintering underground due to abrasion, and this process continues after their emergence from the ground during the spring and summer. Another diagnostic feature is that the posterior ends of the wing covers are pointed. (Brust, et al., 2005; Graves, et al., 1988; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Range length
    12 to 14 mm
    0.47 to 0.55 in


Cicindela hirticollis has a spring-fall, breeding-pupation cycle. Larval development occurs in 3 instars over 1 to 3 years depending on prey availability and climate conditions. Beetles in the southern extents of their range exhibit 1 year life cycle development, and in the northern-most area of their range will exhibit up to 3 year life cycle development. Larvae reach maturation in the fall, when an adult beetle emerges and feeds until cold weather drives them back underground for the winter for hibernation. (Brust, et al., 2005; Gwiazdowski, et al., 2011; Pearson, et al., 2006; Schlesinger and Novak, 2011)


There is little known about the mating habits of Cicindela hirticollis. Mating takes place in the spring after adults emerge from overwintering. Males have been known to exhibit mate guarding of females against other males after copulation. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

After mating in the spring, females lay eggs. Females use ovipositors to inject eggs into the ground for larval development. Each egg is injected into its own hole in moist, fine sand in shady areas. This protects the eggs and larvae, as they are sensitive to desiccation and prolonged submersion. (Brust, et al., 2005; Cornelisse and Hafernik, 2009; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Breeding season
    Mating takes place in the spring.

Females provide provisioning in eggs, and also lay the eggs in moist, sandy soils where the larvae will live upon hatching. Once the eggs are laid, the females leave and do not return. (Pearson, et al., 2006; Schlesinger and Novak, 2011)

  • Parental Investment
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female


Larval development of Cicindela hirticollis alone can take 1 to 3 years. Adults live for about 10 months, from late fall to late summer of the next year, but over half of that time is spent overwintering and inactive. (Brust, et al., 2005; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Typical lifespan
    Status: wild
    1 to 4 years


These tiger beetles dig burrows in which they live and secure prey. Cicindela hirticollis are ambush predators that sit at the mouth of their burrows with their jaws open and their heads and thorax flush with the ground surface. This posture helps to camouflage the burrow entrance. Prey is grabbed with their mandibles and pulled into the burrow during consumption. Non-digestible portions of prey are pulled out of the burrows and flung away from the entrance.

Adult hairy-necked tiger beetles are diurnal insects that are most active on warm, sunny days and will retreat into their burrow on overcast days and at sunset. Cicindela hirticollis are ectothermic, so they regulate body temperatures through behavioral mechanisms such as basking and stilting above the substrate, seeking microclimates that favor damp or shaded areas, and digging burrows. (Brust, et al., 2005; Fenster and Knisley, 2006; Graves, et al., 1988; Pearson, et al., 2006)

Communication and Perception

There is little information available about the communication and perception of Cicindela hirticollis. Larvae have eyes with dense photoreceptors that give them detailed focusing ability and three-dimensional visual perception. (Brust, et al., 2005; Graves, et al., 1988; Pearson, et al., 2006)

Food Habits

Both adults and larvae of Cicindela hirticollis are predators, and prey upon a variety of arthropods, including insects, spiders, and small terrestrial crustaceans. Adults have also been known to scavenge on dead organisms. (Cornelisse and Hafernik, 2009; Fenster and Knisley, 2006; Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • terrestrial non-insect arthropods


Cicindela hirticollis is preyed upon by a variety of invertebrates, including spiders, robber flies, and dragonflies, as well as vertebrates including toads and lizards. Their quick speed and ferocious nature allow them to escape or defend against predators. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

Ecosystem Roles

During larval development, Cicindela hirticollis can be parasitized by flies and wasps. These parasites lay their eggs in the body of the larvae, which kills the larvae as the parasite hatches and feeds inside. Hairy-necked tiger beetles are also prey to a large variety of vertebrate and invertebrate predators. These beetles themselves are significant predators of many invertebrate species. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

Commensal/Parasitic Species

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Cicindela hirticollis has been documented to eat some pest species of insects, such as aphids. By feeding on these pest insects, they reduce damage to crops and other plant species that are beneficial to humans. (Pearson, et al., 2006)

  • Positive Impacts
  • controls pest population

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Cicindela hirticollis on humans.

Conservation Status

Cicindela hirticollis is not a federally protected species, but it is federally recognized as a species of concern. Many populations of C. hirticollis and its subspecies are declining, such as in New York and California. Historical habitats have been destroyed by people and their recreational activities on beaches and lakeshores, such as walking and motor vehicle usage. These disturbances crush and destroy larval burrows. Their habitat also susceptible to human-altered water levels, such as in those areas near dams and channels. Conservation of the species necessitates restricting human access to beaches that the beetles occupy. (Cornelisse and Hafernik, 2009; Pearson, et al., 2006; Schlesinger and Novak, 2011)

Other Comments

There are 11 recognized subspecies of Cicindela hirticollis. (Graves, et al., 1988)


Justin Denelsbeck (author), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Robert Sorensen (editor), Minnesota State University, Mankato, Angela Miner (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


a wetland area rich in accumulated plant material and with acidic soils surrounding a body of open water. Bogs have a flora dominated by sedges, heaths, and sphagnum.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

desert or dunes

in deserts low (less than 30 cm per year) and unpredictable rainfall results in landscapes dominated by plants and animals adapted to aridity. Vegetation is typically sparse, though spectacular blooms may occur following rain. Deserts can be cold or warm and daily temperates typically fluctuate. In dune areas vegetation is also sparse and conditions are dry. This is because sand does not hold water well so little is available to plants. In dunes near seas and oceans this is compounded by the influence of salt in the air and soil. Salt limits the ability of plants to take up water through their roots.


a period of time when growth or development is suspended in insects and other invertebrates, it can usually only be ended the appropriate environmental stimulus.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.


the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


having more than one female as a mate at one time


Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


uses sight to communicate


Brust, M., W. Hoback, K. Skinner, C. Knisley. 2005. Differential Immersion Survival by Populations of Cicindela hirticollis (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 98: 973-979.

Cornelisse, T., J. Hafernik. 2009. Effects of soil characteristics and human disturbance on tiger beetle oviposition. Ecological Entomology, 34/4: 495-503.

Fenster, M., C. Knisley. 2006. Impact of dams on point bar habitat: A case for the extirpation of the Sacramento Valley Tiger Beetle, C. hirticollis abrupta. River Research and Applications, 22/8: 881-904.

Graves, R., M. Krejci, A. Graves. 1988. Geographic variation in the North American tiger beetle Cicindela hirticollis Say, with a description of five new subspecies (Coleoptera: Cicindelidae). Canadian Entomologist, 120: 647-678.

Gwiazdowski, R., S. Gillespie, R. Weddle, J. Elkinton. 2011. Laboratory Rearing of Common and Endangered Species of North American Tiger Beetles (Coleoptera: Carabidae: Cicindelidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 104: 534-542.

Pearson, D., C. Knisley, C. Kazilek. 2006. A field guide to the tiger beetles of the United States and Canada: identification, natural history, and distribution of Cicindelidae. New York, New York, USA: Oxford University Press.

Schlesinger, M., P. Novak. 2011. Status and conservation of an imperiled tiger beetle fauna in New York State, USA. Journal of Insect Conservation, 15/6: 839-852.