“Tiger Beetle – A Life History”
Review by Maxwell Barclay
Curator of Coleoptera
The Natural History Museum London
This fascinating film documents, in incredible detail, the life history of the Green Tiger Beetle from egg to adult and its relationship with its prey and its parasitoid. The text is scientifically accurate and up to date, but is presented in a manner that is accessible and engaging, making it equally useful to school children, students and professional entomologists.
The quality of the photography, as in the previous film of this series, ‘The Alder Woodwasp’, is truly remarkable, featuring almost every aspect of the feeding, mating and defense behaviour of the adult beetles. After a two week long vigil the female was filmed ovipositing in the soil. Careful sectioning of the tunnels enabled direct photography to reveal the behaviour of the tiger beetle larva. The beautiful bright-green beetle is seen emerging in its pupal-cell beneath the snow. Most incredibly of all, it features footage of the parasitic wasp Methocha, which, by masquerading as an item of prey, offers itself to the voracious tiger beetle larva, whereupon it swiftly turns the tables on its aggressor using the tiger beetle’s giant carcass to feed its own larva. This interaction has never been seen before on film.
All too often the biology of even familiar insects is inadequately known, and the information in this film made me look at Tiger Beetles in a fresh light. It should become the text-book example of the life cycle of a predatory beetle, a story infinitely more interesting than many examples in use today. It also provides such detailed observations of the insect’s biology that it may give conservationists new insights into why Green Tiger Beetles, as well as some other members of the worldwide genus Cicindela, have declined in recent years, and how they can be protected.
This video has a place in the library of every person or institution interested in the study of the natural world. It also provides an inspiring example for all those who want to further document the fascinating, and often poorly known, life histories of insects.
This is a remarkable film, as valuable to the beginner as to the specialist, and is an excellent teaching tool.