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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:
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? 😉