By Katie Drewitz, U of M Extension
Over the past several weeks I have received a few insect identification questions that resulted in the six-spotted tiger beetle. Most often when I am writing about or discussing insects, I’m doing so to inform you on the status and prevention measures for emerald ash borer, spotted wing drosophila, and other invasive species. I wanted to take time this week to give the spotlight to the Six-spotted tiger beetle, a native and beneficial insect.
The six-spotted tiger beetle is a vibrant metallic green, generally with 0-8 white spots on its wing covers. Sometimes the color can be more of a blue hue, but that is less common in Minnesota. It is approximately one-half inch in length and often spotted in or near wooded areas. The six-spotted tiger beetle is a predator insect which means that it eats other insects and spiders.
Due to its metallic green coloring, the six-spotted tiger beetle is commonly mistaken for the adult emerald ash borer (EAB). Adult EAB most commonly hang out in the tops of ash trees. It is unlikely, though not impossible, that you would ever see an adult EAB in your day-to-day life. The six-spotted tiger beetle, on the other hand, crawls along the ground and is often spotted on sidewalks and hiking trails. EAB is detrimental to ash trees while the six-spotted tiger beetle does not harm trees or other plant life.
The next time you are out walking along a partially shaded path or in the woods, look around your feet and ahead of you on the path to see if you can spot the six-spotted tiger beetle. They move quickly, so be alert. It should be noted that the beetles can bite humans if they feel threatened, so please just enjoy the sight of them without trying to handle them.
If you have questions about this or any horticulturally related topic, please reach out to your local Extension Educator. Residents in Stearns, Benton, and Morrison Counties can email [email protected] or call (320) 255-6169 ext. 1.