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British ciidae

Contains 22 British species of mostly widespread ¹ beetles associated with fungi, they are rarely found away from fungi or bark containing the mycelia. Several have a very restricted range e.g. Cis dentatus Mellie and Cis jacquemarti Mellie from the Scottish highlands, but generally one should expect a dozen or so species from the Watford area. During the warmer months adults are obvious and usually occur in numbers where found. Berlese extractions from winter fungi usually contain at least some Ciidae; Octolemnus glabriculus (Gyllenhal) and our only non native Cis bilamellatus would seem to turn up, usually in numbers, in just about every such sample from around Watford. Most species seem to show a range of host preferences (Alexander) but it must be said that, especially during summer, they seem to get rather adventitious and may turn up in any (fungoid) situation. This is very much a family to get the feel of, although they appear to be small, drab and nondescript insects when first encountered they become, with a little experience, distinctive enough (with a lens) in the field to get excited about possible new discoveries.

1.2-3mm. Dull brown or black beetles, elongate and very convex, somewhat cylindrical. Antennae 8-10 segmented ² , coupled with general habitus, a good diagnostic character, short with a loose 3 segmented club. Without a scape, some small species of Scolytinae might be mistaken for Ciids but they always have a distinctive scape. Inserted under a raised margin about the front of the head. Head distinctly visible from above (Bostrychidae), often sexually dimorphic with horns, lamellae or teeth in male Cis spp. Pronotum quadrate to (slightly) elongate, often strongly bordered and sometimes adorned anteriorly in male (as head), front angles round but the side margins may end abruptly anteriorly giving the appearance of a tooth. Elytra entire (Monotomidae), randomly punctured, smooth or rugose, glabrous or with scale-like pubescence, in Rhopalodontus perforatus (Gyllenhal) with long outstanding pubescence. Legs short, tarsi 4-4-4, 1-3 very short and sometimes difficult to appreciate (Bostrychidae).

The only complete key in English is given Joy’s handbook but this can only give, in most cases, an indication when it comes to Cis (15 spp.) and Orthocis (2 spp.). Beyond this (as before, German permitting) Vol. 7 of Die Kafer Mitteleuropas should be consulted. Ideally with this group, access to a reference collection is needed.

For the latest nomenclature see the Coleopterist website or the superb article on the subject by Orledge and Booth ³.

¹ National Biodiversity Network Website
² Coupled with the general habitus, a good diagnostic character.
³ An annotated list of British and Irish Ciidae. Coleopterst April 2006. Orledge, G.M and Booth, R.C.

reference: thewcg. org . uk

Octotemnus 8 segs
Ennearthron 9 segs
Cis 10 segs

Rhopalodontus 10 segs

Wildmentor Wildmentor