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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Ghost Tiger Beetle (Ellipsoptera lepida)



Ghost Tiger Beetle ( Ellipsoptera lepida ), a State Special Concern species, has been found in sandy areas, blowouts, and dunes. Also reported from beaches and streamsides. Adults are best surveyed for in July, but can be found from late June through September.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Ghost Tiger Beetle (Ellipsoptera lepida). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Ellipsoptera lepida in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/N
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG3G4
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Identification: Small tiger beetle with white elytra, i.e. the maculations cover most of the field. A few brown markings extend out from the central suture. The head and thorax are hairy greenish to reddish-bronze. The legs and antennae are very pale tan. The underside has dense white hairs. Labrum has one tooth. Length: 8-12 mm.

Similar Species: No similar species in Wisconsin.

Habitat: Deep white or pale yellow sand with little or no vegetation where the beetle is nearly invisible. Inland dunes, large sandblows and sandpits.

Associated Species: C. formosa and C. scutellaris are also found in loose sand habitats.

State Distribution: Central Sands and large sand deposits along the Wisconsin River.

Global Distribution: East of the Rockies and Quebec, Ontario west to Saskatchewan.

Rationale for Species Listing and Threats: Disturbance of dune habitat.

Phenology: Adults may be present from late June to September, most commonly in July.

Life and Natural History: This species has a two-year lifecycle. Two broods of different years may be found in the same site. Eggs are laid in midsummer and the second instar larvae hibernate. The next year is spent as a larvae with overwintering in the third instar stage. The larva pupates the next June or July and emerges as an adult in midsummer. The adults live only about one month, mating in shallow burrows in the sand.

Survey Guidelines: Look for the shadow of the beetle when late afternoon sun hits the white sand. Also attracted to lights at night.



Ghost Tiger Beetle

Natural Pose from Above.

Photo by  staff, WDNR.

Ghost Tiger Beetle

Photo by Kathryn Kirk, WDNR.

Ghost Tiger Beetle

Natural Pose from Above.

Photo by  staff, WDNR.

Ghost Tiger Beetle

Habitat photo.

Photo by Kathryn Kirk, WDNR.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Ghost Tiger Beetle. Only natural communities for which Ghost Tiger Beetle is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Ghost Tiger Beetle. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Ghost Tiger Beetle occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, December 22, 2022