Imperiled in New York - Very vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to rarity or other factors; typically 6 to 20 populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Vulnerable globally - At moderate risk of extinction due to rarity or other factors; typically 80 or fewer populations or locations in the world, few individuals, restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or recent and widespread declines.
Despite its common name of Appalachian tiger beetle, this species was first described from specimens collected in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The origin of the specific name, ancocisconensis, is apparently derived from aucocisco, an area shown on 16th and 17th century charts for the area west of Portland Harbor, Maine (Wilson 1979).
State Ranking Justification
Populations of this species are currently known from 10 creeks or rivers in three different regions of the state. Although it is likely that a few historically documented populations are also extant and additional new populations remain to be discovered, the total number of populations is not expected to be large and there are existing and potential threats at some sites.
It is impossible to assess short-term trends for this species as survey efforts in the past 10 years have focused on the discovery of new locations rather than periodic visits to known sites to determine changes in population levels.
It is difficult to assess population trends for this species as historical data gives little sense of population sizes and as new locations probably represent populations that were always present, but had not yet been documented.
Conservation and Management
Alteration of natural flooding regimes, primarily due to construction of dams, is probably the primary threat to this species (Knisley and Schultz 1997, New York Natural Heritage Program 2006). Dams will inundate cobble bar habitat upstream of the dam while the natural flooding regime is altered downstream of the dam. When natural flooding regimes are altered, cobble bars become overgrown with dense herbaceous and shrub vegtation becoming unsuitable for the beetles. Gravel mining of cobble bars is also a major threat in some regions of the state. Off road vehicle use of cobble bars can destroy larval habitat and has been noted as a threat both in the literature and during on site surveys in western New York (New York Natural Heritage Program 2006). Removal of riparian forest cover is also a possible threat.
Conservation Strategies and Management Practices
Maintenance of natural flooding regimes and streamside riparian vegetation is desirable in watersheds where this species occurs. Minimizing off road vehicle use of cobble bar habitats should reduce or prevent the loss of occupied habitats or areas that might otherwise be suitable for occupation.
A better understanding of the habitat requirements of this species, especially larval habitat requirements, as well as study of dispersal capabilities, would provide information useful in ensuring its conservation.
The Appalachian tiger beetle is a riparian species of hilly and low mountainous regions (Pearson et al. 2006, Knisley and Schultz 1997, Leonard and Bell 1999). It typically inhabits the edges of forested streams and rivers where it occupies sand bars, shaded sand beaches, and gravel areas or cobble bars, but has also been found on dirt roads in the proximity of streams and rivers (Pearson et al. 2006, Knisley and Schultz 1997, Leonard and Bell 1999, Gordon 1939, New York Natural Heritage Program 2006). Areas supporting this species in New York tend to have a substrate mixture of sand, cobble, and some larger rocks with sparse to moderate vegetation of various herbaceous species and saplings of cottonwood (Populus deltoides), willow (Salix) or sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) (New York Natural Heritage Program 2006).
A community that occurs on the well-drained cobble shores of lakes and streams. These shores are usually associated with high-energy waters (such as high-gradient streams), and they are likely to be scoured by floods or winter ice floes.
A meadow community that occurs on sand and gravel bars deposited within, or adjacent to, a river channel. The community may be very sparsely vegetated, depending on the rates of deposition and erosion of the sand or gravel.
Extant populations of this species occur in several different major watersheds in New York including the Delaware, Lake Champlain, Lake Erie, Southwestern Lake Ontario, and Upper Hudson. It is likely that the species also occurs in the Susquehanna drainage; however, its presence in the St. Lawrence drainage is less certain. Counties of occurrence include Erie, Wyoming and Livingston in western New York; Ulster, Sullivan and Greene in the Catskills region; and Essex and Warren in the eastern Adirondacks.
The Appalachian tiger beetle is a species of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. The species range extends from the Gaspe region of Quebec south through western Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, northeastern Ohio, Pennsylvania and south along the Appalachian mountains to northern Georgia. Old records indicate that the range formerly extended west into Indiana and Illinois (Pearson et al. 2006, Leonard and Bell 1999).
Best Places to See
Cattaraugus Creek at Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area
Genesee River Lees Landing at Letchworth State Park (Wyoming County)
Like other tiger beetles in the northeast, the Appalachian tiger beetle is a small insect approximately 0.5 inches (14-16 mm) in length with long sickle-shaped mouthparts, long thin antennae with 11 segments, a long body form with head and eyes wider than the middle portion (thorax) of the body, long thin legs for running, and a pattern of white markings referred to as maculations, on wing covers (elytra) located on top of the main portion of the body (abdomen). Like many northeastern species, the elytra of the Appalachian tiger beetle are a brown - bronze color and the maculations show as three thin, long white lines on each of the two elytra. The front maculation is shortened at its rear and does not curl forward in the shape of a "C" while the middle maculation has a long base along the edge of the elytra and a section that bends into the main portion of the elytra. The head, thorax, and abdomen of the Appalachian tiger beetle are a metallic blue-green to violet on the undersides. As with other tiger beetles, the larvae live in burrows in the ground and are white and grublike in appearance (Pearson et al. 2006, Leonard and Bell 1999).
Characters Most Useful for Identification
Close examination of the pattern of the white maculations on the wing covers (elytra) and the number of teeth on the labrum (upper lip) are the diagnostic characters to examine for determination of the Appalachian tiger beetle (Pearson et al 2006, Leonard and Bell 1999).
Best Life Stage for Proper Identification
All tiger beetles are best identified as adults. Far fewer good diagnostic characters are available for identifying larvae, many species lack formal or complete larval descriptions, and there is no comprehensive key for those larvae that have been described (Pearson et al. 2006). The larvae of the Appalachian tiger beetle has not been described (Leonard and Bell 1999).
Most adult tiger beetles are diurnal animals spending the warmer parts of the day running along the surface of the ground hunting, eating, and mating. They pursue prey by running in short, fast spurts interspersed with brief stops. Appalachian tiger beetles appear to be especially wary and will fly short distances into the more heavily vegetated portions of their habitat when they are flushed. Like most tiger beetles, they are most active on warm, sunny days and will retreat to burrows or hiding places at sunset or when skies become overcast.
Best Time to See
This is a spring-fall species with adult activity periods from late April through June and again from mid July through early September, though fall activity periods are reported to be reduced or absent in some populations (Pearson et al. 2006, Knisley and Schultz 1997, Leonard and Bell 1999). The majority of records for New York are from either June or August and early September although there are July records as well. The lack of April or May records may reflect the lack of surveys during those months or later emergence in the northern portion of the species range (Gordon 1939, New York Natural Heritage Program 2006). The life cycle for this tiger beetle is thought to be two years in the southern portion of the range and three years in the northern portion, with larvae present in burrows throughout the year (Pearson et al. 2006, Knisley and Schultz 1997).
Larvae present and active
The time of year you would expect to find Appalachian Tiger Beetle reproducing and larvae present and active in New York.
The Twelve-spotted tiger beetle is also very similar to the Appalachian and Bronzed tiger beetles. However, in most Twelve-spotted tiger beetles, the maculations are broken so they appear as six separate spots on each wing cover or elytra. The teeth on the labrum are either absent or reduced to three wide, smooth bumps or only the middle tooth is present (Leonard and Bell 1999).
Bronzed Tiger Beetle (Cicindela repanda)
The Appalachian tiger beetle is most easily confused with the Bronzed tiger beetle. In the Bronzed tiger beetle, the forwardmost maculation (the humeral lunule) is shaped like a "C" and this species is generally less greenish-blue on the top of the head, thorax, abdomen, and legs. Probably the best way to distinguish the two species is through in hand examination with a hand lens looking at the labrum (upper lip). The forward edge of the labrum has three pointed extensions or "teeth" in the Appalacian tiger beetle and just one tooth in the Bronzed tiger beetle (Pearson et al. 2006, Leonard and Bell 1999).
Freitag, R. P. 1999. Catalogue of the tiger beetles of Canada and the United States. National Research Council Research Press, Ottawa, Canada. 195 pp.
Gordon, W.M. 1939. The Cicindelidae of New York with reference to their ecology. M.S. thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 136 pp.
Knisley, C.B. and T.D. Schultz. 1997. The Biology of Tiger Beetles and a Guide to the Species of the South Atlantic States. Virginia Museum of Natural History Special Publication Number 5. Virginia Museum of Natural History: Martinsville, Virginia. 210 pp.
Leonard, J.G. and R.T. Bell. 1999. Northeastern tiger Beetles: A Field Guide to tiger Beetles of New England and Eastern Canada. CRC Press. NY, NY. 176 pp.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2006. Biotics Database. Albany, NY.
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. New York Natural Heritage Program Databases. Albany, NY.
Pearson, D.L., C.B. Knisley, and C.J. Kazilek. 2006. A field guide to the tiger beetles of the United States and Canada. Oxford University Press. NY, NY. 227 pp.
Wilson, D.A. 1979. Cicindela ancocisconensis T. W. Harris. Cicindela 11:33-48.
Information for this guide was last updated on:
April 4, 2006
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023.
Online Conservation Guide for
Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/appalachian-tiger-beetle/.
Accessed December 8, 2023.