Skiff beetles are quite small as water-dwelling beetles go, ranging in length from 1-2 mm. Their color ranges from tan to brown, and the elytra are abbreviated, leaving several tapering tergites of the abdomen exposed. The antennae are short, as are the legs.
They are typically abundant in streams in their range, both adults and larvae living amongst and feeding on the filamentous algae that grows on rocks, especially those in the marginal shallows. They can tolerate a wide range of water temperatures, including both icy snow-fed streams and hot springs. Adults carry their air supply under the elytra, with the aid of setae on tergite III.
Hydroscaphid species have been reported from every continent except Antarctica.
- Selected species
- Hydroscapha granulum
- Hydroscapha natans LeConte, 1874 -the only species native to the United States, has been found in southern California, southern Nevada, and Arizona
- Scaphydra angra
- Tree of Life entry for Hydroscaphidae, with pictures
- Rolf G. Beutel page on 3D modelling of larvae heads
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