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tiger beetle
(Photo: Xerces Society / Sarina Jepsen)

Many people have heard of the endangered Bengal tiger but few have heard of the endangered Salt Creek Tiger Beetle. The Xerces Society is working to change that.  

As the name suggests tiger beetles are known for their aggressive predatory habits and ability to run fast to catch prey. Tiger beetles usually have large eyes for spotting and tracking prey, long, slender legs that make them very fast and large curved mandibles to catch and hold prey that is sometimes larger than they are.  They are predatory, both as adults and as larvae.

The larvae of tiger beetles live in burrows that can be several feet deep.  They emerge from their borrows to catch passing prey. Tiger beetles prefer habitats where they can run and fly in short bursts unobstructed by vegetation and are often found on sandy surfaces along ocean and lakeshores, on sand dunes, and on clay banks or woodland paths. 

Many species of tiger beetles are in decline and several are listed as endangered or threatened under the US Endangered Species Act.  They are vulnerable because they are often restricted to open sandy habitat in which they can catch prey and areas with sand in which their larvae can dig borrows.  Habitat loss is the most serious issue for these species and one of the biggest threats to tiger beetles are off-road vehicles that drive over sand dunes and beach areas and crush larval borrows. 

The Salt Creek tiger beetle only lives in a small area of ancient seabed in eastern Nebraska. Over 90 percent of the Salt Creek tiger beetle’s saline marsh habitat has been destroyed or severely degraded through commercial, residential, industrial, and agricultural development and road projects. Although this species is now protected under the US Endangered Species Act, it is still vulnerable because of its small population size and limited habitat.


What We’re Doing

The Xerces Society works to protect tiger beetles and their habitat by advocating for protection under federal and state laws as well as working directly with land management agencies to develop conservation plans and implement habitat improvements. Our work led to the protection of the Salt Creek tiger beetle and it remaining habitat.  We have also worked with the BLM to document populations of the Siuslaw hairy-necked tiger beetle, one of the rarest beetles in the world living on only a few stretches of beach on the Oregon and Washington coast.  Most habitat along the coast has been lost to off-road vehicles.  One area where they still thrive is protected not for the beetles but for the threatened snowy plover, which only nests in areas along the coast.  Habitat restoration and protection for the snowy plover seems to be helping this rare tiger beetle survive.


Species at Risk 

View our species profiles to find fact sheets and other information on some key species Xerces is helping to protect.