Tiger beetles

Where to see a tiger beetle

The heath tiger beetle

The rare heath tiger beetle is a formidable predator, with large eyes and a fearsome pair of jaws. Adults are velvety brown in colour, with pale cream lightning flashes on the wing cases (elytra), and are quick hunters, running across bare ground to catch their invertebrate prey.  As larvae, they spend two years sitting in a tunnel in the sand, ambushing passers-by for a tasty snack. But this tiger is in trouble: over half of the heath tiger beetle’s populations are thought to have disappeared in the last 25 years, but Surrey Wildlife Trust have been hard at work, creating and restoring habitats for Britain’s largest tiger beetle.

Track down a tiger on the prowl on some special southern heathlands
Heath tiger beetle

Heath tiger beetle ©Jon Hawkins

Find a heath tiger beetle

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s heath tiger beetle project has improved habitat in a variety of sensitive and fragile places. For a chance of spotting this handsome tiger try Ash Ranges (but only when the MoD’s red flags are down!) 

How to do it

Adult tiger beetles can be found from April through to the start of September, although they are at their most visible and numerous in the early summer in July. Pick a slightly cloudy day, when the adults will be a bit slower, and find a southerly-facing spot for your best chance of a glimpse.  The adults are very fast hunters and will often run ahead of you and then fly if surprised.  So try looking for the larval tunnels instead, which appear as small circular holes in the path.

If you can't get there

Of Britain’s five tiger beetles, only the green tiger beetle is common and widespread.  Iridescent green with pale spots and metallic pinky-bronze legs, try tracking it down (or seek its larval burrows) on bare sandy areas in heathland and moorland, in sand dunes, or on sunny slopes on downland.

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