Be Careful Not to Kill It: Not Every Shiny Emerald Insect Is an Emerald Ash Borer!

On a recent walk at Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga, I spotted a brilliant turquoise insect ahead of me on the dirt and fine gravel path. At the very first, I wondered if it was one of the shimmering jewel-tone flies that gathered on the river road last year on top of drops of Gatorade.

Photo of Turquoise Beetle On NaturalCrooksDotCom

Stepping forward, I swung around to take photos with the light behind me. The insect turned from true-blue turquoise to rich shimmering emerald green as if a switch had flipped.

My heart slipped. This must be one of those invading Emerald Ash Borers that are killing so many of the local trees.

Still, I took several photos before it either sensed me drawing closer or it saw something of interest and it flew away. None is in perfect focus but they all show a long-legged beetle with 8 or so white blotches on the ”tail” end of the body.

Photo of 6 Spotted Tiger Beetle Small On NaturalCrooksDotCom

This beetle is standing beside a tree blossom. In length, the insect is about 2/3 the diameter of a dime.

Emerald Ash Borers Do Not Have Long Legs

Once home, I clicked onto the internet to look up Emerald Ash Borers. The search engine results were full of photos of insects with short non-obvious legs. They sure didn’t look much like my long-legged beastie.

The shape was also all wrong. My bug had one of those in-and-out bodies like a hornet or an ant. The ash borers all seemed bullet-shaped or vaguely like a leaf-hopper.

Photo of 6 Spotted Tiger Beetle Legs On NaturalCrooksDotCom

I scrolled down the images and suddenly saw my insect. When I clicked on this picture posted by Jacob’s Tree Surgery, the caption leapt to my eyes: “THIS IS NOT THE DREADED EMERALD ASH BORER.”

Emerald Ash Borers Do NOT Have White Spots

The white spots so obvious on my insect were another big clue. The Emerald Ash Borer does not have large noticeable white spots or splodges.

So What Native Emerald (or Turquoise) White-Spotted Long-Legged Beetle Was It?

Luckily the arborist’s website led me quickly to a name: I had found a Six Spotted Tiger Beetle. True, it had more than 6 white spots. Some times they have fewer as well. But according to Bugguide.net that’s what it was.

The info section was particularly informative. It says that 6 Spotted Tiger Beetles are often found “hunting along sidewalks/roads and on large lying logs.” That fairly perfectly described the habitat I found my beetle hunting in: a road-like path which was bordered on either side by large lying logs.

Photo of 6 Spotted Tiger Beetle Walk On NaturalCrooksDotCom

What Do 6 Spotted Tiger Beetles Eat?

If these pretty insects don’t eat ash trees, what do they eat?

According to the Fairfax County Public Schools website, they eat pretty much anything small and bug-like which they can catch. The eat caterpillars, beetles, ants, grasshoppers, flies and spiders.

It doesn’t say whether they eat Emerald Ash Borers but one can always hope!

Either way, I’m glad I didn’t just step on it and squish it which I admit did go through my mind. I would have been killing an innocent and useful insect just because of an extremely superficial resemblance to a pest.


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Have you seen this type of Tiger Beetle or another? Did the vivid colour shock your eyes like it did mine? Please share your encounters with a comment.

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