Northern Dune Tiger Beetle

(c) Mark Eising Birding

Fast Facts

Latin name: Cicindela hybrida

Notable feature: One of the fastest beetles on the planet

Rarity in the UK: Rare / Common

Where in the UK: 75% of the population are found on the Sefton sand dunes the only other UK site is Drigg in Cumbria

Around 2cm long, with colourful reddish wing cases with three pale bands and iridescent green underneath, the northern dune tiger beetle is one of five tiger beetle species found in the UK. They can reach speeds of 2.5 m/s!

Adult beetles can be seen between April and October depending on the weather as they need a body temperature of around 35°C. Too cold and they stay in their burrows, too hot, and they head to the shade of marram grass or take flight to cool down. They will have a go at catching pretty much any insect chasing in short, very quick bursts. Their main predator is the sand lizard.

Like many insects, Northern dune tiger beetles spend most of their lives in a larval form, living in vertical burrows, 20 to 30 cm deep in the sand where they wait for passing prey, grabbing it with their large mandibles and dragging it back into their burrow.

They need open sandy dunes for burrowing, egg-laying and hunting. They also need a mixed topography with areas that cool/heat at different rates, including south-facing slopes, flatter areas for egg-laying and some sparse vegetation for shade and to escape to. Since the 1940s, some 80% of bare sand has been lost on our coast leading to a sharp population decline.