The family Cryptophagidae includes over 100 species in Britain and Ireland. These obscure beetles are relatively small in size, most being between 1 and 3 mm in length, and so closely allied that the accurate identification of many is extremely difficult, even for the specialist. The subfamily Atomariinae may be recognised by the antennal insertions being located on top of the head as opposed to at the sides as in the other subfamilies.
The beetles are mostly to be found associated with decaying plant and animal debris, and so occur especially in dark and humid microhabitats where there is mould or other fungal growth. Species which live among dead wood, dead leaves, moss, grass tufts and manmade heaps, such as farm dung heaps, hay stacks and grass and compost heaps, can usually be found throughout the year. Species which occur at river edges, in marsh debris, fungi, carrion, animal dung and tidal refuse can be found between spring and autumn. Many species seek sheltered sites to hibernate, which are often different from their habitats when active.
A provisional atlas for the subfamily Atomariinae was published in 1993:
- Johnson, C. 1993. Provisional atlas of the Cryptophagidae-Atomariinae (Coleoptera) of Britain and Ireland. Edited for the Biological Records Centre by P T Harding and J C M Dring. Huntingdon: Biological Records Centre.
The recording scheme organiser is Colin Johnson.