These beetles are small, most under 2 mm in length. They are tan to brown in color and the elytra are abbreviated, leaving several tapering tergites of the abdomen exposed. The wings are fringed with long setae. The larvae are fusiform, with a wide thorax and a narrowing abdomen.
These beetles live on mats of algae with a thin layer of running water. This may be the accumulated algae lining the very edge of a stream of water. They tolerate a wide range of temperatures; they have been observed in hot springs and in icy snowmelt. The algae are their food source.
The reproductive cycle is not well known. In at least one species, the female lays a single large egg on the algal mat.
Hydroscaphid species have been reported from every continent except Antarctica.
- Cai, C., et al. (2012). The first skiff beetle (Coleoptera: Myxophaga: Hydroscaphidae) from Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota. Journal of Paleontology 86(1), 116-19.
- Falamarzi, S., et al. (2010). Confirmed occurrence of Hydroscapha granulum in Iran, with notes on its biology (Coleoptera: Myxophaga: Hydroscaphidae). Acta Entomologica Musei Nationalis Pragae 50, 97-106.
- Fikáček, M. and H. Šípková. (2009). New Asian Hydroscapha, with comments on male-female association of co-occurring species (Coleoptera, Myxophaga, Hydroscaphidae). Zootaxa 2286, 31-48.
- Beutel, R. G. and A. Haas. (1998). Larval head morphology of Hydroscapha natans (Coleoptera, Myxophaga) with reference to miniaturization and the systematic position of Hydroscaphidae. Zoomorphology 118(2), 103-116.
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- Hydroscaphidae. Tree of Life.