Wednesday, 16 August 2006

Tiger beetle, burning bright

(With apologies to William Blake, although he no doubt would have written about tiger beetles if he'd seen some of the more spectacular species. His loss.)

Salt pans are inhospitable places for wildlife. Even the vegetation has a hard time. But the green tiger beetle Megacephala australis lives and hunts its prey on the dry beds of salt lakes in inland Australia from Alice Springs to the Wimmera.

I found this animal at Lake Tyrell, near Sea Lake, in NW Victoria. The species is active for most of the year, starting to move in August and settling down again in May. They are strongly associated with salt lakes but hunt for insects on sand dunes in the mallee and along the edges of freshwater swamps.

Many species of Megacephala occur in Australia, South America and Africa, with a much lower diversity in the northern hemisphere. McCairns et al. (1997) regard Megacephala as a Gondwanan genus which has spread northwards from the southern continents.

(And that's my old car, a 1969 Holden Premier with bronze duco and blood-red interior. I airbrushed out dents.)

Read more
McCairns, R.F, Freitag, R. Rose, H.A. and McDonald, F.J.D. (1997). Taxonomic revision of the Australian Cicindelidae (Coleoptera), excluding species of Cicindela. Invertebrate Taxonomy 11: 599–687.

1 comment:

David Nelson said...

Love these little guys Snail, haven't seen them very often though. Buggers to photograph as they never stop running!