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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.

Cis bidentatus

Cis bidentatus

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


  1. Great stuff, thanks for making that available.

  2. Don Stenhouse says:

    Looks very useful! I have some Ciids that have been put to one side for a ‘rainy day’ so will try this key out on them.

  3. Dave Skingsley says:

    Thanks for this. LBJ keys always welcome in my refs

  4. David Gibbs says:

    Ropalodontus perforatus keyed out very easily

  5. Has the handbook for Ciidae been published yet? And if it is, where can you get it?

  6. markgtelfer says:

    Claes, Glenda’s Handbook is nearly complete but she has had to put it on hold. Hopefully it will be published before much longer but it’s not possible to predict when.

  7. Okay, thank you, Mark!

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