A captive breeding project run by Sparsholt College and the Species Recovery Trust has successfully bred Green Tiger Beetles, as part of a wider conservation project for rare beetles.
Green Tiger Beetles (Cicindela campestris) are large, striking beetles that are easily identified by their iridescent green colouring and characteristic yellow spots. They are relatively widespread in the UK and can be found in the spring and early summer. They are closely related to the Heath Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sylvatica), a species which is now extremely rare in the UK and found in only a handful of places in the south of England. Sadly, Heath Tiger Beetles have experienced a dramatic decline over the last few decades with the loss and degradation of lowland heathland.
To try to reverse this trend, the Species Recovery Trust and Sparsholt College have set up a captive breeding project for the Heath Tiger Beetle. The ultimate aim is to reintroduce beetles to suitable sites in England. However, the beetles are so rare and so little is known about their development that rather than risk taking any from the wild, the project is focussing on trying to breed Green Tiger Beetles first. The beetles are so closely related that the lessons learnt from breeding Green Tiger Beetles can be used in the future to breed Heath Tiger Beetles successfully.
In spring last year, Green Tiger Beetles were captured from the wild and moved to a dedicated enclosure at Sparsholt, designed to replicate their natural environment. Within a few weeks, a pair were observed mating and the female ovipositing her eggs in the sand. In a really exciting development, tiny larvae were then spotted, poking their heads out of their larval burrows.
Posted on: 19 May 2021