This colorful tiger beetle may look flashy, but in the pink sand dunes of its Utah habitat, its cream-and-green hues actually help the animal blend in. The cream forewings also help these beetles handle desert heat, by reflecting rather than absorbing sunlight. In the dunes, these tiger beetles are predators—note the insect’s curving mandibles, used to capture ants, flies and other small prey.

The beetles’ tiny range lies on public lands, and researchers and wildlife officials there have for years closely monitored them. In low-rainfall years they have found the beetle population falls—a decline that may only become steeper with climate change. A different type of risk comes from people driving off-road vehicles over the dunes. To prevent the larvae in their burrows from being crushed, officials have set aside some conservation areas where the vehicles are now prohibited.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes tiger beetle
Cicindela albmissima
0.4-0.6 inches (11–15 mm)
Critically endangered (iucn)
Ecological Role
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00292135
Utah, U.S.