Puritan tiger beetle (Cicindela puritana)

Puritan tiger beetle
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Puritan tiger beetle fact file

Puritan tiger beetle description

GenusCicindela (1)

Like other tiger beetles (Cicindela species), the Puritan tiger beetle (Cicindela puritana) is named for its tiger-like hunting behaviour (3) (4), chasing down its invertebrate prey on its long legs and capturing it in its large mandibles (3) (4) (5). A medium-sized terrestrial beetle, the Puritan tiger beetle is bronze-brown to bronze-green in colour, with narrow white bands on the wing cases (2) (3) (4) (5).

The larva of the Puritan tiger beetle is grub-like, with a white, segmented abdomen and a wide, shovel-shaped head (3) (5). The head is metallic black and bears a pair of antennae (3).

The Puritan tiger beetle often occurs alongside and closely resembles the more common bronzed tiger beetle (Cicindela repanda), but can be distinguished by its longer, thinner body and by white wings markings that are continuous rather than broken along the outer edges (3) (5). The Puritan tiger beetle also has white hairs on the underside of the body, whereas the bronzed tiger beetle appears metallic blue-green underneath (5).

Average male length: 11.5 mm (2)
Average female length: 12.4 mm (2)

Puritan tiger beetle biology

The adult Puritan tiger beetle is a fast runner and strong flier (9). Usually active during the day (3) (4), it actively pursues its invertebrate prey (5). Like other tiger beetles, it is a voracious hunter that is likely to be one of the dominant invertebrate predators in its habitat (2).

Although the colour and markings of the adult Puritan tiger beetle make it difficult to spot when not moving (5), it may be predated by dragonflies, robber flies (Asilidae species) and jumping spiders (Salticidae species) (2) (5).

The Puritan tiger beetle spends 23 months of its 2-year life cycle as a larva (5) (10). The larvae of this species create burrows where they lie in wait for passing invertebrate prey (4) (5) (10), firmly positioned at the mouth of the burrow by means of hooks on the abdomen (2) (4) (5). The burrows are closed for hibernation during the winter, as well as during the summer, probably to avoid parasitism by flies and wasps (5). In some locations, the burrows may be subject to flooding (2) (5).

The larvae of the Puritan tiger beetle pass through three developmental stages before pupation occurs around June of the second year (5), with the adults emerging several weeks later (3).

Mating in the adult Puritan tiger beetles begins in mid-July and continues until mid-August, when, their life cycles complete, the adults begin to die off. The female Puritan tiger beetle lays eggs individually just below the surface of the sand, and the eggs hatch after about a week, usually in late August or early September (3) (5) (10).


Puritan tiger beetle range

This species is found in north-eastern North America, where it historically occurred along the Connecticut River in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Massachusetts, and along the Chesapeake Bay shoreline in Maryland (2) (3) (4).

However, by 2005 the Puritan tiger beetle’s range had been reduced to Chesapeake Bay and two sites along the Connecticut River, in Massachusetts and Connecticut (2) (4) (5) (6) (7) (8).


Puritan tiger beetle habitat

The Puritan tiger beetle inhabits sandy beaches around large bodies of fresh or brackish water (9) (10).

Like most tiger beetles, the Puritan tiger beetle has specific habitat requirements (2) (8), but these requirements appear to differ slightly between the Connecticut River and Chesapeake Bay populations (2) (7). Along the Connecticut River, the larvae of the Puritan tiger beetle burrow in sparsely vegetated sandy beaches in bends of the river, whereas along Chesapeake Bay, the larvae use long, high, sandy, non-vegetated banks and cliffs (2) (7) (8).


Puritan tiger beetle status

The Puritan tiger beetle is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Puritan tiger beetle threats

Populations of the Puritan tiger beetle have declined severely over the last century (9). The populations of this species are limited by the availability of sandy beach habitat (5) (10), with suitable sites being lost to urbanisation, flooding behind dams, and bank and cliff stabilisation (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (10).

The habitat of the Puritan tiger beetle is also threatened in some areas by heavy recreational use (3) (4) (5) and by plant succession (2) (7), while the adult beetles may be negatively affected by pesticides from nearby agricultural areas (3).

Due to their long larval period and specific habitat requirements, the larvae of the Puritan tiger beetle are particularly susceptible to any natural or man-made changes to beaches and cliffs (2) (7).


Puritan tiger beetle conservation

Since 1990, the Puritan tiger beetle has been listed as ‘threatened’ under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (4), and this species is also listed as ‘endangered’ in the states of Connecticut, Maryland and Massachusetts (2) (3). These listings prohibit collection or harassment of the Puritan tiger beetle and set a framework for its conservation (2).

In 1993, a recovery plan for the Puritan tiger beetle was developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the objective of which was to restore the beetle to a “secure status within its historical range” and achieve delisting. This was to be accomplished via methods including the protection of its habitat, public education, population monitoring and reintroductions (2). The Puritan tiger beetle appears to move relatively little between habitat patches, so reintroductions may play a key role in establishing new populations and so reducing its risk of extinction (9).

Since the Puritan tiger beetle was listed, the more intensely managed Connecticut River populations have increased in size. However, further declines have occurred at Chesapeake Bay (6).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

Find out more about the Puritan tiger beetle and its conservation:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the Arkive and Universities Scheme.


In arthropods (crustaceans, insects and arachnids) the abdomen is the hind region of the body, which is usually segmented to a degree (but not visibly in most spiders). In crustacea (such as crabs), some of the limbs attach to the abdomen; in insects the limbs are attached to the thorax (the part of the body nearest to the head) and not the abdomen.
A pair of sensory structures on the head of invertebrates.
Slightly salty water, usually a mixture of salt and freshwater, such as that found in estuaries.
A winter survival strategy in which an animal’s metabolic rate slows down and a state of deep sleep is attained. While hibernating, animals survive on stored reserves of fat that they have accumulated in summer. In insects, the correct term for hibernation is ‘diapause’, a temporary pause in development and growth. Any stage of the lifecycle (eggs, larvae, pupae or adults) may enter diapause, which is typically associated with winter.
Animals with no backbone, such as insects, crustaceans, worms, molluscs, spiders, cnidarians (jellyfish, corals, sea anemones) and echinoderms.
Stage in an animal’s lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
Of or relating to the immature stage in an animal’s lifecycle, after it hatches from an egg and before it changes into the adult form. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but are usually unable to reproduce.
The pair of mouthparts most commonly used for seizing and cutting food, common to the centipedes, millipedes and insects.
Interaction in which one organism derives its food from, and lives in or on, another living organism (the host) at the host's expense.
The process of becoming a pupa, the stage in the life cycle of some insects during which the larval form is reorganised into the adult form. The pupa is usually inactive, and may be encased in a chrysalis, cocoon or other protective coating.


  1. IUCN Red List (March, 2012)
  2. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region (1993) Puritan Tiger Beetle (Cicindela puritana G. Horn): Recovery Plan. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Northeast Region, Hadley, Massachusetts. Available at:
  3. Massachusetts Division of Fisheries & Wildlife: Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program - Puritan tiger beetle (June, 2011)
  4. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (1990) Endangered and threatened wildlife and plants; determination of threatened status for the Puritan tiger beetle and the northeastern beach tiger beetle. Federal Register, 55(152): 32088-32094. Available at:
  5. Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection - Puritan tiger beetle (April, 2011)
  6. Suckling, K. (2006) Puritan tiger beetle. In: Measuring the Success of the Endangered Species Act: Recovering Trends in the Northeastern United States. Center for Biological Diversity, Tuscon, Arizona. Available at:
  7. Pyzikiewicz , A.J. (2005) Species profile: Puritan tiger beetle Cicindela puritana. In: New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan. New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, Concord, New Hampshire. Available at:
  8. Vogler, A.P. and Desalle, R. (1994) Diagnosing units of conservation management. Conservation Biology, 8(2): 354-363.
  9. Omland, K.S. (2002) Larval habitat and reintroduction site selection for Cicindela puritana in Connecticut. Northeastern Naturalist, 9(4): 433-450.
  10. Days in the Country Environmental Education Foundation - Puritan tiger beetle (June, 2011)

Image credit

Puritan tiger beetle  
Puritan tiger beetle

© Steve Collins

Steve Collins
5415 31st St
TX 79407
United States of America


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