A small creature took to air from near my feet. It flew a short distance close to the ground and landed further down the trail that I was walking. As I approached it closer, it quickly took off, and landed further down the path. This “catch-me-if-you-can” game happened a few times over.
I was curious to know what this little creature was. I tread very carefully and inched closer. This little insect on long legs was very wary of my presence. It would run in a zigzag manner for a short distance and would stop as if to check if I was following it. All the while it kept moving away and keeping a distance from me. However, after considerable effort, I eventually managed to get close enough to photograph it.
Slowly, I lay on my belly, flat on the ground with my camera ready to get a shot of this insect. Through my lens this little insect did look very smart indeed.I managed to quickly get a few pictures and was very happy at the achievement, more so because this little fellow was so active. I waited until it moved away from me to get up back on my feet. I knew it was a beetle because it had a pair of hardened wings. But the large eyes, powerful mandibles and the long legs were a give away. It was a Tiger Beetle indeed!
There are over 2500 species of tiger beetles in the world with about 220 species known from India. Most tiger beetles are less than and inch long. Many are also very brightly coloured, some have metallic hues.
Tiger beetles are predatory by nature and get their name because they are known to ambush their prey. Though most species are active during the day, some are nocturnal too. I have, on occasion seen some species getting attracted to light in the night. Perhaps, to make a meal of the other insects that also gets attracted to the light.
The pretty tiger beetles are but just one small group of the very large order of beetles. Incidentally, beetles account for nearly a fourth of all species on Earth!
To see more tiger beetle images click here.