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

Virginia Big-headed Tiger Beetle (Tetracha virginica)


There is no overview information available for that species.

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 Virginia Big-headed Tiger Beetle (Tetracha virginica). 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 Tetracha virginica in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/N
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1S2
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

Identification: Large dark green beetle with no markings on the elytra. Jaws, antennae, legs are yellow-brown or rust-colored. The pronotum narrows toward the posterior end. Sides of the thorax and elytra metallic green. Ventral surface is dull green, brown, or blackish with the tip of the abdomen cream-colored. Body glabrous. Largest tiger beetle in the state. Length: 20-24mm.

Similar Species: May be distinguished from large ground beetles (Carabidae) by the long sickle-shaped mandibles and the location of antennae. Carabids have the antennae inserted between the base of the mandibles and the eyes. Cicindelids have the antennae inserted on the front of the head above the base of the mandibles. Tiger beetles have very large eyes relative to the size of the head and distinctive light markings on a dark background. Most ground beetles are unicolorous black, brown, or green.

Habitat: Found in woody area of sand prairie in Wisconsin.

State Distribution: Sauk County.

Global Distribution: New England to Nebraska and south to Texas and Mexico.

Phenology: This is a summer species with peak abundance probably in late July-early August.

Life and Natural History: The adults are typically solitary and spend the day under rocks and logs becoming active at night. They may come out when it is overcast or after rains during the day.

Survey Guidelines: May be attracted by lights at night.

Inventory, Monitoring and Research Needs: Survey potential habitat with blacklights. Barrier pitfall trapping was successfully used in the New Jersey pine barrens for this species.



Virginia Big-headed Tiger Beetle

Photo by Kathryn Kirk, WDNR.

Virginia Big-headed Tiger Beetle

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 Virginia Big-headed Tiger Beetle. Only natural communities for which Virginia Big-headed 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.

Natural community Score
Sand Barrens 2
Sand Prairie 2

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Virginia Big-headed 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 Virginia Big-headed 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, October 08, 2020