Hairy-necked Tiger Beetle

Cicindela hirticollis Say, 1817

Cicindela hirticollis, Noblewood Park, Lake Champlain
Matthew D. Schlesinger

Insecta (Insects)
Carabidae (Ground Beetles)
State Protection
Not Listed
Not listed or protected by New York State.
Federal Protection
Not Listed
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled or Imperiled in New York - Especially or very vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to rarity or other factors; typically 20 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or steep declines. More information is needed to assign either S1 or S2.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Secure globally - Common in the world; widespread and abundant (but may be rare in some parts of its range).


Did you know?

The hairy-necked tiger beetle has declined in many parts of its range, mainly due to habitat alteration and recreational pressure on its sandy habitats.

State Ranking Justification

This species has a limited state distribution, narrow habitat requirements, and is declining in much of its range, including New York, due to beach front development and overuse of beaches. The rank was calculated using NatureServe's Element Rank Calculator, version 2.0.

Short-term Trends

No information on short-term trends is available.

Long-term Trends

Approximately 7 of 40 historical occurrences on Long Island appear still to be occupied, with most having been surveyed recently. No historical information is available for New York's Great Lakes populations.

Conservation and Management


The overall threat impact is considered Very High. Beach front development and overuse of beaches are major threats. In particular, vehicle traffic that crushes larval burrows is a chief cause of decline.

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices

The most critical management need for the hairy-necked tiger beetle is the control and/or elimination of vehicle and other recreational traffic on occupied beaches, which can crush larval burrows. Beach grooming and stablization measures also adversely affect larval and adult beetles.

Research Needs

A primary research need is further description of the morphology, habitat use, and distribution of C. h. hirticollis and C. h. rugifrons, which apparently overlap at several locations in New York (Schlesinger and Novak 2011). Research is needed on the reasons C. hiritcollis is able to persist on some beaches where C. dorsalis dorsalis is not. Research is also needed on microhabitat separation (niche partitioning) among C. hirticollis, C. repanda, and C. tranquebarica.



This beetle occurs on sandy beaches associated with large lakes (Ontario and Champlain) and the ocean. Beaches can be narrow or wide, with varying amounts of dune vegetation, but usually with some associated dunes intact.

Associated Ecological Communities

  • Great Lakes dunes (guide)
    A community dominated by grasses and shrubs that occurs on active and stabilized sand dunes along the shores of the Great Lakes. Unstable dunes are sparsely vegetated, whereas the vegetation of stable dunes is more dense, and can eventually become forested.
  • Maritime beach (guide)
    A community with extremely sparse vegetation that occurs on unstable sand, gravel, or cobble ocean shores above mean high tide, where the shore is modified by storm waves and wind erosion.
  • Maritime dunes (guide)
    A community dominated by grasses and low shrubs that occurs on active and stabilized dunes along the Atlantic coast. The composition and structure of the vegetation is variable depending on stability of the dunes, amounts of sand deposition and erosion, and distance from the ocean.

Associated Species

  • Bronzed Tiger Beetle (Cicindela repanda)
  • Oblique-lined Tiger Beetle (Cicindela tranquebarica)


New York State Distribution

This species is primarily recorded from Long Island with some recent records from the shores of Lake Champlain and Lake Ontario. It is primarily a beach species.

Global Distribution

The hairy-necked tiger beetle is widely distributed throughout North America. The subspecies C. h. hirticollis ranges from the southeast US to northern New York, and west to the southern Midwest. The subspecies C. h. rugifrons occurs in New York, New England, and the upper Midwest (Pearson et al. 2006).

Best Places to See

  • Jamaica Bay National Wildlife Refuge (Queens County)

Identification Comments

Identifying Characteristics

Like other tiger beetles in the northeast, the hairy-necked tiger beetle is a small insect approximately 0.5 inches (12-14 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 (maculations) on wing covers (elytra) located on top of the main portion of the body (abdomen). The elytra of the hairy-necked tiger beetle are brown or bronze; the anterior maculations are G- and reverse-G-shaped. 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

The hairy-necked tiger beetle, true to its name, has a hairier "neck" (thorax) than other tiger beetles in similar habitats; however, this character can be challenging without other species in hand for comparison. The G shape at the front of the elytra, as opposed to a C shape in C. repanda, is the best character for distinguishing this beetle.

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).


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. Tiger beetles are most active on warm, sunny days and will retreat to burrows or hiding places at sunset or when skies become overcast.


Tiger beetles are predatory on other insects. Little is known about specific diet items of the hairy-necked tiger beetle.

  • Active
  • Larvae present and active

The time of year you would expect to find Hairy-necked Tiger Beetle active and larvae present and active in New York.

Similar Species

  • Bronzed Tiger Beetle (Cicindela repanda)
    C. repanda has a C shape at the front of the elytra and less dense hairs on the thorax.

Hairy-necked Tiger Beetle Images


Hairy-necked Tiger Beetle
Cicindela hirticollis Say, 1817

  • Kingdom Animalia
    • Phylum Arthropoda (Mandibulates)
      • Class Insecta (Insects)
        • Order Coleoptera (Beetles, Weevils)
          • Family Carabidae (Ground Beetles)

Additional Resources


Gordon, W.M. 1939. The Cicindelidae of New York with reference to their ecology. M.S. thesis, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 136 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: Boca Raton, Florida. 176 pp.

Leonard, M. D. ed. 1928. A list of the insects of New York, with a list of the spiders and certain other allied groups. Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station Mem. 101. Ithaca, New York. 1121 pp.

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: identification, natural history, and distribution of the Cicindelidae. Oxford University Press, New York, New York. 227 pp.

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

Schlesinger, Matthew D. Rare tiger beetles of New York: status and conservation. New York Natural Heritage Program. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Albany, NY. 118 pp.


About This Guide

This guide was authored by: Matthew D. Schlesinger

Information for this guide was last updated on: June 29, 2012

Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023. Online Conservation Guide for Cicindela hirticollis. Available from: Accessed December 5, 2023.