Cliff tiger beetle (Cicindela germanica)

GenusCicindela (1)
SizeLength: 8-11 mm (2)

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (3).

The cliff tiger beetle is the smallest tiger beetle in Britain. It is typically dull green in colour with a coppery sheen, but it may occasionally be bluish or almost black (2). There are 3 pale spots on the margins of each wing-case (elytra) (2).

This beetle was once distributed along the coast of England between Hampshire and Devon, and also occurred in South Wales, with unconfirmed historical records from Berkshire and Kent. However, it has only been found in Dorset and on the Isle of Wight since 1970. Outside of Britain, it has a wide distribution from western Europe reaching east to China (3).

Lives on coastal cliffs, or near their bases, on bare or sparsely vegetated sand or silt close to seepages of freshwater (3).

The life cycle of this tiger beetle takes a year to complete; adults breed in the summer, larvaehibernate during winter in vertical burrows in sand or silt, and adults emerge the following spring (3). The larvae and adults are predatory, hunting invertebrates that are active on the surface, particularly ants (3). This species rarely flies; instead it moves around by running rapidly over sand (4).

The threats facing this beetle include coastal erosion and development, cliff stabilisation programmes, as well as the growth of scrub (3).

The cliff tiger beetle is a UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) priority species; its Species Action Plan aims to maintain all current populations, and ensure that new populations are established in at least 5 sites within the historic range before 2010 (3). This beetle receives some protection, as some sites in which it occurs are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) or National Nature Reserves (NNRs) (3). Furthermore, English Nature has included the cliff tiger beetle in its Species Recovery Programme.

For more on English Nature's Species Recovery Programme see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (September 2002)
  2. Lindroth, C. H. (1974) Handbooks for the identification of British insects. Volume IV. Part 2: Coleoptera, Carabidae. The Royal Entomological Society of London, London.
  3. UK BAP (September 2002)
  4. Hymen, P. S. and Parsons, M.S. (1992) A review of the scarce and threatened Coleoptera of Great Britain: Part 1. JNCC, Peterborough.