When someone mentions a tiger the first thing that comes to mind to most of us is the large striped Asian predator. Usually we think of tigers prowling the jungle; but Siberian tigers, the largest of all tigers, actually inhabit far eastern Russia where winters can be severe and the snow deep.
However, Siberian tigers aren’t the topic here.
It was February and I was repotting several amaryllis bulbs that we had overwintered in the basement. Amaryllis, which are not hardy here and must be overwintered indoors, produce spectacular flowers that can easily reach eight inches in diameter. These bulbs originated from several that Gerald (see this previous post) had given me a number of years ago.
The potted bulb had been in the basement since early October, without water. As I took the bulb and dry soil out of the pot what also emerged was a tiger in the form of a six-spotted tiger beetle –
Tiger beetles are extremely active predators of spiders and small insects both as adults and larvae. They spend their larval stage in burrows in the ground with only their heads exposed; there they wait for passing prey which they grab with their large mouthparts.
Adult six-spotted tiger beetles are bright metallic green (occasionally blue), typically with six white spots on their elytra (wing covers). They frequent paths and quiet roads in wooded areas where they dash about as they pursue and capture prey. Tiger beetles are so fleet of foot that their speed is said to be the equivalent of a human running at 700 miles an hour.
This tiger beetle undoubtedly created its larval burrow in the amaryllis’ pot when it was outside in the garden last summer, came in with the pot and pupated, changing into an adult in the pot in the basement.
Northcentral Pennsylvania has had unusually warm weather this February (the climate is changing) so perhaps the tiger beetle will survive outside.
If it does, this may be the last thing some unlucky insect or spider will ever see –