Fungus-eating and other beetles
By Steve Head
recorded over 27 thousand beetles from over 440 species in 40 families in her Leicester garden, mostly caught in malaise traps
, pitfall traps
or (a minority) in mercury-vapour light trap
s. This is a good proportion of the 103 beetle families
currently recognised on the UK checklists, but these figures really illustrate what a huge diversity of beetles exist in our small island. Some of the beetle families listed by Owen have been renamed to reflect current practice.
The other pages on beetles on this website cover the common, ecologically important and generally larger beetles. This page is based on the additional beetle families recorded by Jennifer Owen, but this is far from a definitive list of what could be found in gardens. While her sampling effort is probably unequalled in any private garden in the world, her list reflects the geology and landscape around her home. Sampling in gardens in other parts of the country will undoubtably record additional species and families.
So little is known of beetle ecology in gardens that it would be really helpful if keen garden owners made a point of studying their beetle fauna and their garden role, although the identification of the smaller species can be really challenging!
Fungus and decaying wood beetles.
The larger families are described in Dead wood beetles
but there are many additional families of small, sometimes rare and obscure beetles that feed on fungi, on fungi in rotting wood, and sometimes on the associated microfauna such as springtails and mites.
Tiny (1-3mm) brown beetles often associated with particular fungus species. Owen recorded 5 specimens of one species Cis boleti.
Small (1-11mm) "Silken fungus beetles". Mostly fungus eaters, but some are found in wasp and bumblebee nests. Owen caught 67 specimens from 11 species Cryptophagus dentatus
Tiny (1.2mm) "Handsome fungus beetles" Owen recorded 3 specimens of Sphaerosoma piliferum,
the only UK Alexiid, which is black and nearly circular in outline, a bit like a ladybird.
Small (2-7mm) "Pleasing fungus beetles", often found below rotting bark or on tree fungi. Owen found two specimens of one species. There are 8 known in the UK.