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I took this photo with my NEW MACRO LENS on a weekend trip to Copper Breaks State Park, in Quanah, Texas. This Tiger Beetle (the best I can guess on ID is that it may be one of the subgenus, Cicindelidia, or American Tiger Beetles) won my heart with his bold approach – almost walked right into my lens cover! When I spotted him (her?) on the sandy path, I dropped to the ground to photograph him at eye level. Over the course of 20 minutes, this individual went about his business, working his way closer and closer to me. He proved that the minimum focusing distance is less than Nikon’s listed 12 inches. I would say he got within 6-8 inches of my lens. I love this guy!

I photographed two individuals during my trip, and I believe they are both the same species, though the white marks (maculations) on his wing covers (elytra) are not identical. That I can even provide the technical terms for these marks and anatomical reference to what I would have called his “shell,” is a tribute to the beetle-love inspired by Ted MacRae at Beetles in the Bush. I can also thank Ted for convincing me to part with some hard-earned cash to get that 105mm f2.8 macro lens. Best splurge purchase of the year!



All you entomologists out there…hope these photos provide enough info for an ID. I broke out my Pearson/Knisley/Kazilek Tiger Beetle guide, but the plate that looks the most like this beetle to me, is not a match for range. Copper Breaks State Park is located here:

I was at the park Saturday and Sunday, and I photographed a different individual Tiger Beetle each day. The following photographs are of the second individual:



These beetles were about 1/2 inch long. Here are a pair of photos to help with size – the sprig of grass is small:


I saved the best for last – I took a series of photos that I have spent quite a lot of time aligning just right, so that they make a passable slow-mo movie. The animation shows the first individual chewing on another insect (presumably). The beetle looks as if he uses the ground to help reposition his food in his mouth. I found the behavior fascinating, and was so excited that I was able to watch it so closely that I almost peed my pants! TMI? 😉

Click to play animation

9 Responses to “Tiger Beetles, Meet My New Macro Lens”

  • Congratulations – your perseverance has paid off.

    The row of green punctures on the elytra along each side of the suture clinch this as the punctured tiger beetle, Cicindela punctulata – as you guessed in the subgenus Cicindelidia.

    I’m a sucker for face-on shots, so the first photo is my favorite.

  • Fantastic shots, Amber! The “sidewalk tiger beetle” was the first name I learned for this species–before I learned its real name.

    I can’t wait to see what else you accomplish with the new lens.

    • I have learned one thing about my new lens…just because you CAN get close to your subject, doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Depending on the size of the subject, you might need a few feet to get enough depth of focus to get the entire subject IN focus. I’m looking forward to getting better at using it, for sure!

  • […] Coakley has a fascinating encounter with a Cicindela punctulata as she was trying out her new macro lens. Check out her post for more images of this beetle. Onthophagus hopfneri by MARGARETHE […]

  • Congrats on the new lens Amber. I just got a macro lens not too long ago and am still working on my techniques. There is definitely an art to it and glad that it’s the digital photo age to help hone my skills without having to wait for film to be developed.

    Happy exploring the smaller things in nature.

    • Scott, I agree with you about there being an art to macro photography. It is great fun! And I’m delighted about digital photography, as much for the instant gratification, as for the no-cost clicking & developing.

  • tiger beetles are very fascinating – so small that can be sometimes mistaken for big ants. and many of them are very colorful

    thanks for very nice photos !

    • Hi ElytraGJ – just this past weekend I saw two new species of tiger beetle – one was a fabulous metallic red and green! I’m looking forward to writing about it, though I’ll feature slightly less than 87 pictures. (I was a little enthused with my first set of macro photos in this post) 😉

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