The Fastest Running Land Animal on Earth

2 October 2010
I was invited by Lance to visit this spot claimed to be full of Tiger Beetles. True enough, it was an amazing sight to have over 7 Tiger Beetles scampering in front of me, suntanning or having their breakfast.

Tiger Beetles are often found in sandy areas and run or fly away VERY quickly when approached. It can run at 8km/hour and is technically the fastest running land animal on the planet. The fastest species of tiger beetles can run at 125 body lengths per second, over 20 times faster than the world’s fastest human. Lets just say that for a human to perform the same feat in a 100m race, it would be over in 0.87 seconds. For the record, a cheetah can go to 33m/s or or 24 to 30 body lengths per second.

Interestingly, because of the speed it goes at, these beetles cannot get enough photons in their eyes (i.e. lose their vision) and have to stop after each spurt to re-orientate themselves in hunt for prey. This is described in an article here.

Anyway, some random bugs to warm up with… 🙂

Praying Mantis (Mantodea) - DSC_6944#1 Praying Mantis

Ladybird larva (Coccinellidae) - DSC_6964#2 Ladybird nymph, saw a few of them and one stuck to my camera for quite a while

St Andrew's Cross Spider (Argiope pulchella) - DSC_7005#3 St Andrew’s Cross Spider

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_6967#4 First tiger beetle! wohoo! Had to lay my camera on the ground using an angled viewer to shoot them

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_6975#5 It takes a lot of luck and patience to get to these guys.. extremely skittish and fast!

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_6978#6 Getting them from various angles

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_6985#7 Staring at one straight into the face

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_7012#8 Detailed view of it’s mandibles

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_7019#9 Detailed view of it’s mandibles

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_7022#10 It’s metallic looking legs and body proves to be reflective, but we didn’t have time to adjust the lighting!

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_7026#11 Perched on a leaf

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_7033#12 View of it’s back

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_7064#13 Almost mating! Well, maybe they had already finished their business…

Tiger Beetle (Cicindelinae) - DSC_7073#14 Another shot with softer flash to obtain a brighter background

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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