Home » Science » Tiger Beetles Run so Fast That They Temporarily Blind Themselves. They Move About 120 Body Lengths Each Second. Their Environment Becomes a Blur, and Their Eyes Cannot Gather Light to Form an Image.
Tiger Beetle

Tiger Beetles Run so Fast That They Temporarily Blind Themselves. They Move About 120 Body Lengths Each Second. Their Environment Becomes a Blur, and Their Eyes Cannot Gather Light to Form an Image.

According to entomologists, tiger beetles are known to move quickly and then pause when pursuing their prey. The reason why this kind of beetle assaults its meal in stops and starts has eluded scientists up until now, though. But did you know that tiger beetles run so fast that they temporarily go blind?

Tiger beetles run so quickly that they momentarily become blind. Their surroundings blur when traveling up to 120 body lengths per second because their eyes cannot gather enough light to form an image.

Tiger Beetles and How to Identify Them? 

Broad, protruding eyes, long, slender legs, and large, curved mandibles are common features of tiger beetles. All are predatory, both as adults and as larvae.  The genus Cicindela has a cosmopolitan distribution. Other well-known genera include Tetracha, Omus, Amblycheila, and Manticora. 

While members of the genus Cicindela are usually daily and may be out on the hottest days, Tetracha, Omus, Amblycheila, and Manticora are all nocturnal. Both Cicindela and Tetracha are often brightly colored, while the other genera mentioned are usually uniform black.  The Manticora genus has the subfamily’s most giant tiger beetles in size. These are primarily found in the arid areas of southern Africa.

Tiger beetle larvae live in cylindrical holes up to a meter deep. They are large-headed, hump-backed grubs that can flip backward to catch food insects that scurry across the ground. The swift adults chase after their prey while flying exceedingly quickly, with reaction times comparable to those of common houseflies. Some tiger beetles are arboreal in the tropics, while most run on the ground’s surface. They inhabit dunes, clay banks, woodland trails, playa lake beds, sea and lake beaches, and dunes. They prefer sandy substrates.

Tiger beetles are considered a suitable indicator species and have been used in ecological studies on biodiversity. Several species of wingless parasitic wasps in the genus Methocha under the family Thynnidae lay their eggs on larvae of various Cicindela spp., such as Cicindela dorsalis. (Source: Cornell University News

How Do Tiger Beetles Adapt to their Surroundings?

Tiger beetles exhibit an interesting mode of pursuit in which they alternately race swiftly in the direction of their prey before stopping and reorienting themselves visually. The beetle may be traveling too quickly for its visual system to effectively analyze images when running, as evidenced by the rigidly holding their antennae in front of them to perceive their surroundings and avoid obstacles mechanically. (Source: Cornell University News

Fossil Records of the Tiger Beetle

The Yixian Formation in Inner Mongolia, China, contains the oldest fossilized tiger beetle discovered to date, Cretotetracha Grandis, which dates to the early Cretaceous Period 125 million years ago. Most fossils discovered are found in siltstone that is gray or yellow.  

Characteristics that distinguish Cretotetracha from Cicindelidae include long, sickle-shaped mandibles, simple teeth arranged along the inner surface of the mandible, and antennae that attach to the head between the base of the mandibles and the eye. The length of the left mandible is roughly 3.3 mm, while the right mandible is approximately 4.2 mm.

A lengthy body of around 8.1mm, with long sprinting legs and eyes that are wider than the thorax. Tiger beetle fossils from the Mesozoic era have only been found in Brazil, in the Crato Formation around 113 million years ago, and Oxycheilopsis cretaceous from the Santana Formation approximately 112 million years ago. (Source: Cornell University News

Image from Mdc

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