My good friend Brad Bonham told me about a conversation she had with a landscaper over the weekend who declared they were seeing Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis) (EAB) beetles mating in a woodland in southwest Ohio. Of course, as she noted, it's way too early for EAB adults to be on the wing; full bloom of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) is a good phenological indicator for EAB adult emergence.
The beetles the landscaper was seeing frolicking in the woodland was Six-Spotted Tiger Beetles (Cicindela sexguttata). These shiny beetles are more emerald green in color than EAB causing them to be commonly mistaken for the non-native borer. Indeed, these tiger beetles have excellent eyesight, quick speed, and they are agile flyers; traits that make it difficult for people to get a close look for accurate identification.
Six-Spotted Tiger Beetles have a curious affinity for darting about on woodland trails; they can certainly liven up a walk in the woods. The beetles have elongated bodies with the thorax about half the width of the front wings and abdomen. They have long legs and their bulging black eyes make them look like they're wearing dark goggles. As the common name implies, six-spotted green tiger beetles have white spots that are arranged along the trailing edge of the wing covers, three spots per side. The spots are small and sometimes obscured by light bouncing off their highly reflective shiny green bodies.
As with all tiger beetles (family Cicindelidae), this is a ferocious predator and it sports powerful sickle-shaped mandibles that are used to grab and dispatch hapless arthropod prey. A word of caution: these carnivores can also use their impressive mandibles to deliver a painful bite to the hand of the overly curious. So, keep your eyes peeled for and hands away from these tigers prowling woodland trails ... and don't kill them since they are good guys!