White-cloaked Tiger Beetle in Texas

While I was participating in the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Christmas Bird Count, I found this tiger beetle on the mud flats by St. Charles Bay:

White-cloaked Tiger Beetle (Eunota togata) - 1

A couple days later I uploaded it as an observation and identified it as a White-cloaked Tiger Beetle. I've seen this species a few times before on the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie's Pasture. Later I noticed that the observation had automatically been added to the iNat project Texas Invertebrate Species of Conservation Need. This project tracks observations of invertebrates that are listed on the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN) list. Very interesting! And on this list this species is listed as occurring in the Chihuahuan Deserts ecoregion out in west Texas. But none of the Texas observations in iNaturalist are in this region. They are mostly along the coast in the Gulf Coast Prairies and Marshes ecoregion.

Here are all the Texas observations.
(All Texas image records in BugGuide.net are also from this ecoregion.)

So what's the story here? Did the Texas SGCN list mis-categorize this species? Is it only of conservation need within the Chihuahuan Deserts ecoregion? I don't know. But world-wide, there are currently only 36 observations in iNaturalist of this species, so I think it's probably of concern everywhere. I'll certainly keep my eyes out for it in the future, and I'd love to know more about its status.

I'm happy that this little investigation got me to read more about the Texas SGCN list, and about the Texas Conservation Action Plan it's a part of. I was impressed by how readable and accessible the list and the action plan are on TPWD's web site. I encourage anyone who wants to learn more about the big picture of conservation in Texas (and how you can be a part of it) to read at least the action plan overview document.

Also, I'm impressed with Tiger Beetles. They're a diverse, colorful, active, interesting, and accessible group of animals to observe.

Posted by mikaelb mikaelb, December 26, 2018 15:58

Observations

Photos / Sounds

What

White-cloaked Tiger Beetle Eunota togata

Observer

mikaelb

Date

December 19, 2018 11:06 AM CST

Description

Taken during the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge Christmas Bird Count.

Journal entry here.

Comments

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Thanks for reading that Texas Conservation Action plan — I wish more folks would. It’s going to be updated...sooner before later as well.

Also, big time thanks to @alex_cicindela_guy for curating so many of the tiger beetles on iNaturalist. :)

Posted by sambiology 5 months ago (Flag)
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I need to read more of it! It's a great resource.

Posted by mikaelb 5 months ago (Flag)
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This status may be based on one of the subspecies known from the salt basin in the Hudspeth County, TX area. While the species seems to be relatively common there, a lowering of the water table due to agricultural irrigation and a proposed water storage project make the future of the site uncertain.

See the references to Cicindela togata fascinans in this paper: http://bison-m.org/documents/48302_TAR_1077_Knisley_et.al.pdf

Posted by billdodd 5 months ago (Flag)
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Thanks @billdodd! It'll take me awhile to digest that paper but it looks very interesting!

Posted by mikaelb 5 months ago (Flag)
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There are 3 subspecies of this species. The nominate, then fascinans and globicollis...The nominate trogata is the one you show here and it is found along the gulf coast and east Texas, Fascinans is limited to central NM and the Trans Pecos area. It is different in appearance. globicollis is found in the Great Plains down into upper panhandle of Texas. All 3 of these sub-species population are well isolated from each other . I recall finding fascinans thinking it was a completely different species. This was on the White Sands Missile Range NM

Posted by brushfreeman 5 months ago (Flag)

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