Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Omus californicus

The California night-stalking tiger beetle Omus californicus intermedius occurs sporadically through the Sierra Nevada of California. It can be fairly common if you find the right place. Fortunately for us, we found such a place this last weekend a few miles south of Shaver Lake (in Fresno County). Because of the many rains this year and cool temperatures, the area (at an elevation of about 5,000 feet) was still moist (almost wet) and the California dogwoods were still in "bloom". The beetles themselves were under pieces of wood or logs or just under fallen leaves. Jon found the first one. The habitat shot is of Michael in a prime spot.

Finding Omus is always a thrill for me. Having lived in a number of states where I've seen and collected a number of impressive "tigers" I've often rued the fact that Omus was so restricted to the West Coast. Now that I'm living in California I find that they're not all that hard to find after all, at least if you're persistent. Even so, they're an impressive insect. Their mandibles are certainly capable of drawing blood if you gave them the chance.

I've collected them at elevations ranging from 5,000 feet to 8,000 in the Sierra Nevada above Fresno. I know Dennis Haines has found them at lower elevations further south. He tells me that there may be subspecific (or even specific) differences between some of these populations, but further work is needed (which Dennis is currently doing). In the mean time keep your eyes open for them (or any Omus) and let us know if you find some.


Anonymous said...

Awesome! I wish I'd been clued into tigers when I lived in California. I've got specimens in my collection, but I hope someday I'll get the chance to see these out in the field.

Sam Wells said...

I agree. If you're ever here in the spring, let me know, I can point you to a couple of places I've found them.

randomtruth said...

If y'all are still interested, I think I now know where a good population of Omus californicus is in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

R. Dennis Haines said...

I'm always looking for good populations of Omus. This year's efforts are centered around gathering DNA for most of the more recognizable forms from California. I've been working my way north and will be heading up for some of these "Omus sequoiarum". Hopefully the DNA will be illuminating for the Night-stalking Tiger Beetles.