EFA: Etsy For Animals Etsy For Animals: ANiMAL MUNDi: Ohlone Tiger Beetle by Corinna of The FrogBag

Etsy for Animals (EFA) aka Artists Helping Animals,

is a team of independent artists, craftspeople,

vintage sellers and craft suppliers on Etsy.com

who are dedicated to providing charitable relief to animals

by donating a portion of the profits from their shops

to an animal charity of their choosing,

and/or to EFA's featured Charity of the Month.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

ANiMAL MUNDi: Ohlone Tiger Beetle by Corinna of The FrogBag

 by Corinna of TheFrogBag

Ohlone Tiger Beetle

The Endangered Species Act became law in the United States back in 1973, more than 40 years ago. With so many animals and plants in trouble, sometimes it’s hard to remember that things would be much worse without it. But just ask the Ohlone tiger beetle (Cicindela ohlone), a beautiful, ferocious (albeit tiny) predator that only became known to science in 1987. 

Because of the Ohlone’s very specific habitat requirements it was already in trouble by the time anyone noticed it. 

Emerging from the ground for only about two months each year in the early spring, these bright green insects are found in just five spots in Santa Cruz County, California and nowhere else. Open grasslands with clay soils on the coast are becoming a thing of the past in the west, and as they disappear they take their flora and fauna with them. 

These particular ground beetles prefer quiet dirt tracks for hunting, breeding, and building their burrows, but such trails are overused in densely populated California. Small animals like tiger beetles are easily trampled underfoot by unwary mountain bikers and hikers, not to mention horses and dogs. Invasive non-native plants complicate things further, as does the overuse of pesticides and urban run-off. 

Despite the odds against them Ohlone tiger beetles hung on, continuing to produce their odd, big-headed grub offspring. These larvae are hunters like their parents, but with their own special methods of capturing prey. While the adults wait in ambush or take flight to catch their meals, the larvae do a backflip instead. It might not be pretty, but it works. 

Unfortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service neglected to provide protection for the beetles even after two listing petitions filed on their behalf outlining their tiny range and specialized habitat requirements. It seems that humans want ocean views too, and don’t mind killing a few beetles to get them. Fortunately, the Center for Biological Diversity filed suit against the Service, and the beetles finally got protection in 2001, 14 years after their discovery. And since the best way to help the Ohlone tiger beetle thrive is to preserve its habitat, many other creatures who also make their living on coastal terrace prairies were also protected by proxy. 

And that’s the true beauty of the Endangered Species Act. No single species exists in a vacuum. Each is a part of a complicated ecosystem. Predators are often especially important. Even predators that happen to be boneless, tiny, and green. 

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