Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle (Cicindela patruela patruela)
Matthew D. Schlesinger
Carabidae (Ground Beetles)
Not listed or protected by New York State.
State Conservation Status Rank
Critically Imperiled in New York - Especially vulnerable to disappearing from New York due to extreme rarity or other factors; typically 5 or fewer populations or locations in New York, very few individuals, very restricted range, very few remaining acres (or miles of stream), and/or very steep declines.
Global Conservation Status Rank
Vulnerable globally - Both the species as a whole and the subspecies/variety are 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.
The northern barrens tiger beetle was rediscovered in New York in 2004, after decades of not being detected in the state. The species is known today in New York from a single occurrence in the Shawangunk Mountains in Ulster County. Likely causes for its decline include destruction of its pine barrens habitat and suppression of natural disturbances such as fire that create and maintain habitat openings.
State Ranking Justification
Only one extant occurrence of the nominate subspecies is known from the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County.
Short-term trends are unknown. Cicindela patruela patruela was rediscovered in Ulster County only in 2004.
Cicindela patruela patruela was rediscovered in New York in 2004. Although this beetle has not been observed for decades in other reported localities, additional populations may be present elsewhere in the state.
Conservation and Management
Fire suppression and off-road vehicle use in pine barrens habitat are the two greatest threats to the persistence of nothern barrens tiger beetles. Since the one known occurrence is on protected land, proper management of that site for tiger beetles should allay both threats.
Conservation Strategies and Management Practices
Reduce or eliminate detrimental ATV and other motor vehicle use in pine barrens habitats that support, or may support, this species. Restore fire and other natural disturbances that maintain or provide new openings in the beetle's pine barrens habitats.
Research that would increase knowledge of threats to this tiger beetle, as well as helping define preferred habitat in order to guide future monitoring, restoration, and habitat protection efforts is needed. High-quality pine barrens areas on the Shawangunk Ridge should be the highest inventory priority. Nearby rocky summits with pitch pine are also a high priority. Historical locations should be searched, but specimens should be verified and additional location information sought. This tiger beetle is reported to like sandy areas with jack pine and there is a record from Burlington, Vermont (Leonard and Bell, 1999). Given this information, the Clinton County sandstone barrens also warrant searching.
In its single known occurrence, the species persists in rocky and sandy sites with pitch pine and scrub oak vegetation. Individuals are most frequently found in sandy or rocky openings and sometimes escape into low vegetation. These locations include natural openings as well as old roads and restoration sites.
A woodland community dominated by dwarf individuals of pitch pine and black huckleberry, which occurs on flat-topped summits of rocky ridges. The bedrock is a white quartzite conglomerate; soils are very thin, and they are rich in organic matter from litter that has accumulated on the bedrock.
A community that occurs on warm, dry, rocky ridgetops and summits where the bedrock is non-calcareous (such as quartzite, sandstone, or schist), and the soils are more or less acidic. This community is broadly defined and includes examples that may lack pines and are dominated by scrub oak and/or heath shrubs apparently related to fire regime.
Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata)
New York State Distribution
Historical records for the nominate subspecies are from western New York (Conesus Lake), the lower Hudson area (Peekskill, West Point), Karner, and Crystal Lake (location unknown; there are many Crystal Lakes in New York). One extant occurrence is present on the Shawangunk Ridge in Ulster County.
Ranges from the upper midwest, east to the mid-Atlantic region, down through the Appalachian chain to North Carolina and north in disjunct populations into southern Ontario (Glaser 1984).
Best Places to See
Shawangunk Mountains (Ulster County)
Like other tiger beetles in the northeast, the northern barrens 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). Like only a few northeastern species, the elytra of the northern barrens tiger beetle are metallic green; the maculations show as two spots and one middle band on each of the two elytra. 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 metallic green elytra and complete middle maculation are the most diagnostic characters for identifying the northern barrens tiger beetle (Pearson et al. 2006, Leonard and Bell 1999, Knisley and Schultz 1997).
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. Northern barrens 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.
Tiger beetles are predatory on other insects. Little is known about specific diet items of the northern barrens tiger beetle.
Best Time to See
This is a spring-fall tiger beetle, with adults active in late May and June, and again in late August and September, although 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). At the one known occurrence in New York, surveys have detected the species in late May, June, early July, August, and September. The larvae are present in burrows throughout the year, and the species has a two-year life cycle (Pearson et al. 2006, Knisley and Schultz 1997, Leonard and Bell 1999).
Larvae present and active
The time of year you would expect to find Northern Barrens Tiger Beetle reproducing and larvae present and active in New York.
Common Clay Bank Tiger Beetle (Cicindela limbalis)
Clay bank tiger beetles are typically red-purple-bronze with some green and blue on the margins. The frons ("eyebrow" region) is hairy in clay bank tiger beetles (Leonard and Bell 1999).
Cow Path Tiger Beetle (Cicindela purpurea)
Cow path tiger beetles are typically red-purple-bronze with some green and blue on the margins. The frons ("eyebrow" region) is hairy in cow path tiger beetles (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. 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.
Pearson, D.L., and A.P. Vogler. 2001. Tiger beetles: the evolution, ecology, and diversity of the cicindelids. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY. 333 pp.
Information for this guide was last updated on:
December 11, 2007
Please cite this page as:
New York Natural Heritage Program. 2023.
Online Conservation Guide for
Cicindela patruela patruela.
Available from: https://guides.nynhp.org/northern-barrens-tiger-beetle/.
Accessed September 23, 2023.