Tiger Beetle reintroduced to Nebraska

By: Cole Miller

It's a small beetle found only in Lancaster County. Now, agencies are teaming up to help the endangered specie thrive once again.

The Salt Creek Tiger Beetle was listed on he endangered species list in 2005. Today, a team of scientists spent the afternoon researching their habitat.

Robert Harms looks over Arbor Lake, just north of Lincoln. It's one of only three areas in Lancaster County that Tiger Beetles call home. They're no where else in the world. Harms says the endangered beetle plays an important role in studying the land, which is used by many animals.

“Wetlands provide important functions for people, flood control, aesthetics, make sure we have clean water and the Tiger Beetle, being a member of the wetland community, is sort of a good indicator, said Robert Harms with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Beginning this time next week, Harms and his team will reintroduce the Tiger Beetle larvae to areas like these.

Salt Creek, which is just north of town is where the team has found the perfect type of land the Salt Creek Tiger Beetle thrives in. You can almost smell the salt down there, it almost smells a little bit like the ocean and we even found some burrowing holes from last year.

The beetles only live in these salty, marshy areas, many of which have been destroyed or developed. Last year, there were only about 300 of them. Research funds are made possible by private donations, but many were upset when the land became a protected area.

“Well, there's always going to be people that are against it, no matter what type of species you're conserving. I would just hate to lose a treasure like this, a local treasure,” said Steve Spomer with UNL Entomology.

Once the team plants the larvae, they'll then wait until June, which is when the beetles will be adults. In the future, Harms says they hope to have more areas where they can introduce new populations.