Cryptophagus scutellatus Newman, 1834

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POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

CUCUJOIDEA Latreille, 1802

CRYPTOPHAGIDAE Kirby, 1826

CRYPTOPHAGINAE Kirby, 1826

CRYPTOPHAGINI Kirby, 1826

Cryptophagus Herbst, 1792

This Western Palaearctic species occurs throughout Europe from Portugal to northern Italy and the Black Sea although it is generally absent from the Balkan Peninsula, to the north it reaches the UK and the Arctic Circle in Fennoscandia and is recorded from Iceland, it extends east into Western Russia and is widespread across the Near East and North Africa, it has also become established in North America European adventives; in Canada from 1928 and from the United States from 1961. In the UK it is widespread though local and probably under recorded across Central and Eastern England and Wales and there are scattered records north to Southern Scotland and in Ireland. Little is known of the biology but adults occur decaying organic matter in a range of situations e.g. in compost, fungoid tree hollows and decaying bark, bird nests, mammal burrows and nests, and among bundles of decaying cut reeds and vines, they have been recorded among organic waste in caves are also synanthropic, occasionally occurring among stored plant material. On the continent it has been recorded from a range of decaying broadleaf trees, mammal and bird nests as well as those of the honey bee (Apis mellifera L.) and red wood ant (Formica rufa L.), and among various fungi including Laetiporus sulphureus (Bull.), Fomes fomentarius (L.) and Trametes cinnabarinus (Jacq.: Fr.). In North America they occur in mixed as well as broadleaf forests.  Adults are present year-round, they are most commonly recorded during the first half of the year, from January, and much less frequently so from August or September into December. Given the range of adult habitats the larvae are likely to be generalist feeders on fungal spores and hyphae. The best way to sample adults is by sieving or extracting likely material from early spring, they usually occur randomly and as single specimens but large numbers occasionally occur together.

Cryptophagus scutellatus

Cryptophagus scutellatus

© Lech Borowiec http://www.cassi

1.2-1.9 mm. Elongate, weakly convex and almost parallel-sided, entirely pale to dark brown or with the forebody a little darker than the elytra, dorsal surface with fine recumbent pubescence. Head transverse and weakly produced in front of moderately strongly convex eyes that usually meet the anterior pronotal margin, antennae 11-segmented with an abrupt 3-segmented club; the ninth segment almost as wide as the tenth and much wider than the eighth. Pronotum transverse, widest about the middle and narrowed to obtuse posterior angles, anterior calli short, less than one fifth of the margin in length, and the lateral tooth in front of the middle, surface almost flat across the disc, punctures shallow and separated by at least their diameter and pubescence mostly directed obliquely from the centreline. Scutellum short and widely transverse. Elytra with rounded shoulders and a continuous apical margin, much wider across the base than the base of the pronotum, surface finely roughened and randomly punctured, without striae but often with partial longitudinal impressions. Legs long and slender, femora unarmed, tibiae without a tooth at the external apical margin. Tarsi 5-segmented in females, 5-5-4 in males, all segments simple. This species is readily distinguished among the UK species by the short pronotal calli and the lateral tooth being placed in front of the middle, the simple recumbent pubescence, broad antennal club and simple front tibiae.