These tiger beetles may be small, but with their very long legs and fierce jaws, they are fast and formidable hunters, running down insects and small crustaceans near the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and along the Connecticut River.

Today, these predators are in severe decline, down to just a few remaining populations. Because their habitat includes popular beaches, their ground nests can be trampled or driven over by beachgoers. Along the Connecticut River, dams and modified shorelines have changed the natural river patterns that they relied on. And extreme weather events due to climate change have made flooding more common and more severe than in the past.

But a diverse team of students, volunteers and federal and state biologists has been working on ways to help this species survive. At the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, researchers learned to rear the larvae in a laboratory in order to make new populations. Releasing tiny animals into the wild is challenging. But for several years, the team placed lab-reared larvae at several Connecticut River sites, and returning to those places in the summer of 2021, they found more Puritan tiger beetles than ever before.

Puritan tiger beetle
Ellisoptera puritana
Wingspan
0.4–0.6 inches (10–15 mm)
Status
Threatened (u.s. fish and wildlife service)
Ecological Role
Predator
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00292283 and AMNH_IZC 0029286
Found
Connecticut, U.S.