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Don't Confuse Six-spotted Tiger Beetles with EAB

Jeffrey Hahn, Extension Entomologist

Jeff Hahn, Univ. of MN Extension

Photo 1: Six-spotted tiger beetle, a common insect in May and June.

The six-spotted tiger beetle is a native insect found throughout most of Minnesota commonly in deciduous forests, along the edges of woods, and in adjacent fields. It can even be found in urban areas in yards and gardens. Watch for this beetle at or near the ground in areas where the sun shines.

This beetle measures about ½ inch in length. It really stands out because it is an iridescent green or blue-green. It also has six white spots, although that number can vary. The six-spotted tiger beetle has conspicuous sickle-shaped mandibles (jaws) and large bulging eyes on the side of its head.

The six-spotted tiger beetle is present in Minnesota from May into early July. It is very active, moving rapidly in short bursts. It is common to see it run rapidly or fly a short distance. As one might suspect from the large eyes and the powerful jaws, this insect is a predator on all types of insects.

Jeff Hahn, Univ. of MN Ext

Photo 1: Emerald ash borer, a slimmer and slower insect than a six-spotted tiger beetle

Besides being colorful and a fun insect to observe, a six-spotted tiger beetle is also important because people may mistake it for an emerald ash borer (EAB), a destructive invasive insect that infests and kills all species of ash. They are both a similar size and bright, iridescent green.

These two insects can be distinguished by the shape of their bodies; EAB is slender, gradually tapering to the tip of its abdomen while the wing covers of a six-spotted tiger beetle are wider than its head. Also a six-spotted tiger beetle is much faster than an EAB.  See also EAB look-a-likes.  If there is any doubt whether an insect is an EAB, capture it and take a picture and submit it to "The Arrest the Pest Line",
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