There are some families of beetles that I find it hard to get excited about. And for many years I was ambivalent at best about the Ciidae which I saw as a family of LBJs1 which were often difficult to identify with any confidence. However, in recent years I’ve been focussing much more on saproxylic beetles (all the British ciids are saproxylics), have now found all but three of the 22 British species and I’ve completely changed my attitude. They’re an ecologically interesting family and are valuable in site assessment.
It is usually fairly easy to recognise a beetle as a ciid with a little experience. However, I’ve been caught out by Sphindus dubius (Sphindidae) which has quite a similar appearance. It differs from all the ciids in having longer tarsi with the last segment about as long as the rest (last segment much longer than the rest in Ciidae) and from most by also having regular puncture rows on the elytra.
There is an excellent overview of British Ciidae by Glenda Orledge in A Coleopterist’s Handbook.
They remain a difficult family to identify with confidence but a Royal Entomological Society Handbook to British Ciidae is in preparation by Glenda Orledge. In the meantime, I offer my Keys to British Ciidae (Word DOC) as a stop-gap.
1 Little Brown Jobs