The Courtship of Tiger Beetles

2 December 2010
Went flat on the floor in hunt for tiger beetles! This post will feature the Tiger Beetle (Cicindela aurulenta). Tiger beetles are the fastest land running animals on earth. Read my earlier blog post on Tiger Beetles for details. Click here for more photos of other tiger beetles.

During this hunt, I stood for long periods of time, observing the little critters sprinting around on the ground. Noticed that some appeared larger and moved in shorter spurts. On closer inspection, they were actually a courting couple!

Tiger beetles are known to be super horny and would not hesitate to attempt to copulate. In the short trip alone, I observed 4 to 5 pairs of courting tiger beetles. Unfortunately, none were observed to be successful in copulation.

The male typically approaches the female from behind in intermittent sprints, and mounts her when he gets close enough. From there, it would be a bull-riding phase where the male clamps onto her thorax with his mandibles and legs, while the female struggles to throw the intruder off her back. He then attempts to insert his extended genitalia into the female while doing this. Some called this rape. Others called this courtship. 😛

    Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9810
  1. Warming up with the little sprinters

  2. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9813
  3. Front view, extremely hard to approach these guys!

  4. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9822
  5. Noticed this particular tiger beetle that looks larger, and seemed to have more legs. On closer inspection… they were just stacked! Top guy looks like trying to maintain balance. lol

  6. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9824
  7. Yay!! Balanced!

  8. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9837
  9. Waited for the duo to turn around

  10. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9842
  11. Closer look, seems like the one on top is biting on the one below?

  12. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9930
  13. I actually spotted 4 more of such “couples”, here’s another pair

  14. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9939
  15. Yet another pair! Always started with pictures from behind, they’d be flying off otherwise.

  16. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9943
  17. Not really mating, but biting!

  18. Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_9934
  19. A solitary tiger beetle

The complete album can be viewed here.



Hi my name is Nicky Bay. I am a macro photographer, instructor and book author, travelling the world to document the vast micro biodiversity that nature has to offer. Follow my updates and discover with me the incredible beauty and science behind our planet's micro creatures!

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