Specimen of Cryptophagus, photographed by Mike Quinn.

Belongs within: Cucujoidea.
Contains: Atomaria.

The Cryptophagidae are small beetles that feed on mould and other fungi under bark and in leaf litter. Some cryptophagids may also be found in stored foodstuffs. The North American species Antherophagus convexulus may be found on flowers where they attach themselves to visiting bumblebees in order to be transported back to the bee’s nest (Bouchard 2014). Species of Telmatophilus inhabit the flower heads of bulrushes and other water plants (Richards & Davies 1977).

The prothorax bears a well-developed lateral carina in members of the subfamily Cryptophaginae but this is reduced or absent in Atomariinae (Leschen & Skelley 2002).

Characters (from Lawrence & Britton 1991): Oblong to elongate, slightly flattened, usually red or brown in colour and clothed with erect and decumbent hairs (rarely globose and/or glabrous). Antennal insertions exposed, lateral and well separated or more or less approximate; pronotum subquadrate with distinct lateral carinae or more rounded, sometimes with paired glandular callosities at anterior angles or near middle; prosternal process moderately broad and overlapping the mesosternum; elytra with apically widened sutural flanges and incomplete epipleura; trochanters more or less elongate; ventrite 1 much longer than 2. Larvae elongate, subcylindrical to flattened, lightly sclerotised, with short and straight or sharply curved urogomphi (sometimes absent). Prostheca usually serrate, mala falcate.

<==Cryptophagidae [Catopochrotidae, Cryptophaginae, Hypocopridae]LS02
| i. s.: Micrambina rutilaM83
| Myrecoxenus atomaroidesM83
| Nganasania kheticaRJ93
| MicrambeP92
| | i. s.: Paratomaria crowsoniMW15
| |--CryptafriciniLS02
| |--HypocopriiniLS02
| | |--Hypocoprus Motschulsky 1839 [incl. Myrmecinomus Chaudoir 1845]LS02
| | | `--H. tenuisLS02
| | `--Amydropa Reitter 1877LS02
| | `--A. clarkiLS02
| `--Atomariini [Ephistemini]LS02
| |--AtomariaMW15
| |--Curelius Casey 1900LS02
| | `--C. japonicus (Reitter 1877)LS02
| |--Tisactia Casey 1900LS02
| | `--T. subglabraLS02
| `--Ephistemus Stephens 1829LS02
| |--E. globulusM83
| `--E. perminutusLS02
|--Cryptosomatulini [Picrotini]LS02
|--Caenoscelini [Sternodeini]LS02
| |--Sternodea Reitter 1875LS02
| `--Caenoscelis Thomson 1863 [incl. Macrodea Casey 1924]LS02
`--Cryptophagini [Antherophagi, Emphyli, Paramecosomina, Spaniophaeni, Telmatophilides]LS02
|--Henotiderus Reitter 1877 [incl. Crosimus Casey 1900, Henoticoides Hatch 1962]LS02
| `--H. obesulumLS02
|--Myrmedophila Bousquet 1989LS02
| `--M. americanusLS02
|--Pteryngium Reitter 1887LS02
| `--P. crenatumLS02
|--Salebius Casey 1900LS02
| `--S. octodentatusLS02
|--Antherophagus Dejean 1821LS02
| |--A. convexulus LeConte 1863B14
| `--A. nigricornisC01
|--Henoticus Thomson 1868LS02 [incl. Cryptophagops Grouvelle 1919L03]
| |--H. alluaudi [=Cryptophilus alluaudi, *Cryptophagops alluaudi]L03
| `--H. californicusLS02
|--Telmatophilus Heer 1841 [incl. Hydrophytophagus Shuckard 1839, Hydrophytophilus Erichson 1846]LS02
| |--T. americanusLS02
| |--T. cairnsensis Blackb. 1895M96
| |--T. caricisS00
| `--T. typhaeS00
`--Cryptophagus Herbst 1792 (see below for synonymy)LS02
|--C. acutangulusLS02
|--C. affinis [incl. C. affinis var. australis Blackb. 1887]M96
|--C. angustatus Lucas 1846E12
|--C. castaneusT27
|--C. difficilisL03
|--C. distinguendus Sturm 1845PN02
|--C. gibberosus Lucas 1846E12
|--C. gibbipennis Blackb. 1892M96
|--C. labilisC01
|--C. laticollis Lucas 1846E12
|--C. lindensis Blackb. 1891M96
|--C. lycoperdiB74
|--C. maurus Lucas 1846E12
|--C. puncticollis Lucas 1847E12
`--C. scutellatus Newman 1834PN02

Cryptophagus Herbst 1792 [incl. Cryptophagistes Crotch 1873, Micrambinus Reitter in Heyden et al. 1906, Mnionomus Wollaston 1864]LS02

*Type species of generic name indicated


[B14] Bouchard, P. (ed.) 2014. The Book of Beetles: A lifesize guide to six hundred of nature’s gems. Ivy Press: Lewes (United Kingdom).

[B74] Britton, E. B. 1974. Coleoptera (beetles). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers. Supplement 1974 pp. 62–89. Melbourne University Press.

[C01] Csiki, E. 1901. Bogarak [Coleopteren]. In: Horváth, G. (ed.) Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazása [Dritte Asiatische Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] vol. 2. Zichy Jenő Gróf Harmadik Ázsiai Utazásának Állattani Eredményei [Zoologische Ergebnisse der Dritten Asiatischen Forschungsreise des Grafen Eugen Zichy] pp. 75–120. Victor Hornyánszky: Budapest, and Karl W. Hierseman: Leipzig.

[E12] Evenhuis, N. L. 2012. Publication and dating of the Exploration Scientifique de l’Algérie: Histoire Naturelle des Animaux Articulés (1846–1849) by Pierre Hippolyte Lucas. Zootaxa 3448: 1–61.

[L03] Leschen, R. A. B. 2003. Erotylidae (Insecta: Coleoptera: Cucujoidea): phylogeny and review. Fauna of New Zealand 47: 1–108.

[LS02] Leschen, R. A. B., & P. E. Skelley. 2002. Cryptophagidae Kirby 1837. In: Arnett, R. H., Jr, M. C. Thomas, P. E. Skelley & J. H. Frank (eds) American Beetles vol. 2. Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea pp. 338–342. CRC Press.

[M83] Martin, N. A. 1983. Miscellaneous observations on a pasture fauna: an annotated species list. DSIR Entomology Division Report 3: 1–98.

[M96] Masters, G. 1896. Catalogue of the described Coleoptera of Australia. Supplement, part II. Dytiscidae, Gyrinidae, Hydrophyllidae, Staphylinidae, Pselaphidae, Paussidae, Silphidae, Scaphididae, Histeridae, Phalacridae, Nitidulidae, Trogositidae, Colydiidae, Cucujidae, Cryptophagidae, Lathridiidae, Mycetophagidae, Dermestidae, Byrrhidae, Parnidae, Heteroceridae. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales 21 (Suppl.): 695–754.

[MW15] McKenna, D. D., A. L. Wild, K. Kanda, C. L. Bellamy, R. G. Beutel, M. S. Caterino, C. W. Farnum, D. C. Hawks, M. A. Ivie, M. L. Jameson, R. A. B. Leschen, A. E. Marvaldi, J. V. McHugh, A. F. Newton, J. A. Robertson, M. K. Thayer, M. F. Whiting, J. F. Lawrence, A. Ślipiński, D. R. Maddison & B. D. Farrell. 2015. The beetle tree of life reveals that Coleoptera survived end-Permian mass extinction to diversify during the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution. Systematic Entomology 40 (4): 835–880.

[PN02] Poggi, R., G. Nonveiller, A. Colla, D. Pavićević & T. Rađa. 2001–2002. Thaumastocephalini, a new tribe of Pselaphinae for Thaumastocephalus folliculipalpus n. gen., n. sp., an interesting new troglobious species from central Dalmatia (Croatia) (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae, Pselaphinae). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale “Giacomo Doria” 94: 1–20.

[P92] Poinar, G. O., Jr. 1992. Life in Amber. Stanford University Press: Stanford.

[RS15] Robertson, J. A., A. Ślipiński, M. Moulton, F. W. Shockley, A. Giorgi, N. P. Lord, D. D. McKenna, W. Tomaszewska, J. Forrester, K. B. Miller, M. F. Whiting & J. V. McHugh. 2015. Phylogeny and classification of Cucujoidea and the recognition of a new superfamily Coccinelloidea (Coleoptera: Cucujiformia). Systematic Entomology 40: 745–778.

[RJ93] Ross, A. J., & E. A. Jarzembowski. 1993. Arthropoda (Hexapoda; Insecta). In: Benton, M. J. (ed.) The Fossil Record 2 pp. 363–426. Chapman & Hall: London.

[S00] Siddiqi, M. R. 2000. Tylenchida: Parasites of plants and insects 2nd ed. CABI Publishing: Wallingford (UK).

[T27] Thomson, G. M. 1927. The pollination of New Zealand flowers by birds and insects. Transactions and Proceedings of the New Zealand Institute 57: 106–125.


  1. Hi! 8D
    I´m writing to you from Finland. My broblem is that I´ve found a few plaster beetles from my new house. It´s been just build and we´ve been living in it for 2 months. I´m just wonderig where these kind of beetles could come from becouse it´s something like -20 degrees celcius outside and I store my food so very very VERY carefully after refridgerateing it that the bugs could not come from there. How can I get rid of those tiny litlle fellows or is there any need to get rid of them? They are pests are they? That sounds bad… 😉

  2. Sorry, I couldn't really tell you what type of beetles you're finding without seeing one. I recommend that you take some to someone in your area (perhaps at a local university?) who may be able to identify them.

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