Home » Identifying beetles » Phalacridae


A family of small and unspectacular beetles. There are only 15 species in three genera on the British list (Duff, 2012) plus one more recent addition.

Olibrus norvegicus: added to the British list from Sandwich Bay in 2012

Phalacrids are quite distinctive and can be easily recognised at family level in the field with a little experience. They are small, oval beetles, highly domed above and flat beneath. Somewhat reminiscent of small ladybirds but mostly with a more oval, less rounded, outline and glabrous, whereas most of the smaller coccinellids are hairy above. The species are typically found by sweeping in open habitats such as grassland or marsh.

The Royal Entomological Society (RES) Handbook by Thompson (1958) is one of the best RES beetle Handbooks and has stood the test of time very well. However, with the discovery of Olibrus norvegicus new to Britain in 2012, I thought it was time to revise and update Thompson’s Handbook and include the new species:

Download Keys to British Phalacridae version 2. Version 2 just has a photograph of Olibrus norvegicus added.

To download the keys, left-click the link. This will take you to my Google Docs webpages where you can see an online preview of the document (in which some of the tables and illustrations don’t come out properly). From the File menu, select Download and Save the file to your computer to see it in its original form.

By downloading these keys, you agree to let me know if you encounter any problems and can offer any improvements, clarifications, additional or better illustrations, etc. Thanks.

Thompson’s (1958) Handbook can be downloaded from the RES website.


  1. Weitten says:

    The Download of the Keys to British Phalacridae is invalid.

  2. markgtelfer says:

    Weitten, the preview and download of the keys is still working today. Email me if you are still having problems. Mark

  3. Gert van Ee says:

    I have downloaded it yesterday without problems. Nice pictures. Nice work!


  4. markgtelfer says:

    Thanks Gert – appreciated.

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