Habitats & Collecting Methods
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Terrestrial habitats
Leaf litter, dung, carrion, and other dirty places

Almost all species in the subfamily Sphaeridiinae and a few species of Hydrophilinae are considered terrestrial, or at least semi-aquatic. Damp places like dung, carrion, compost piles, and seaweed on the beach all contain specialized hydrophilids. Some live in ant nests, penguin guano, fruit, and leaf litter. Basically, these guys turn up nearly everywhere. However, certain habitats are more productive in certain biogeographic regions. For example, those in ant nests are known from the New World while those in Penguin guano only from New Zealand. Here, I try to summarize some of the more commonly encountered habitats that you will likely have reasonable success.

Dung & Carrion. These habitats, especially dung, can be very productive. Species that specialize in dung are frequently introduced to other biogeographic regions. For example, although there are three species of Sphaeridium in North America, none are native. In Costa Rica, I have noticed the weather makes a difference in the productivity of collecting in these habitats--sunny warm days are always better than rainy days.
Beach wrack/seaweed. A number of species (mostly Cercyon) inhabit the piles of seaweed and other detritus that washes up on shore. They can be surprisingly abundant in some cases. Submerging the clumps in a bucket of water and collecting the beetles as they float to the surface can be very effective.
Above: The remnants of a brocket deer in Costa Rica

Below: Collecting in beach wrack in California

Moss and other dense plant matter. In cloud forests, hydrophilids can be found in the dense, damp mats of moss that cover tree branches and some wet rock faces. These can be collected by either permethrin fogging (see below for more on this technique) or by submerging the moss in buckets of water and collecting beetles that float to the surface.
Under bark. Some species, especially in tropical areas, can be found under the bark and moss covering dead and dying trees and logs. A screwdriver or knife is helpful to pry or scrape off the surface to look for these beetles. In Costa Rica for example, a number of Omicrini and some Coelostomatini have been found here.
Leaf Litter. Recent survey that involve sifting leaflitter in tropical forests have resulted in many thousands of hydrophilid specimens, many of them new to science.
Above: Collecting Omicini under moss/bark
Right: Submerging moss in water in Costa Rica
Below: Collecting Dactylosternum under the bark of a dead tree in Costa Rica
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