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Taxonomic group

Family: Scirtidae

Diagnostic features

Scirtids are beetles with aquatic larvae and terrestrial adults. The larvae may have an elongated (almost elmid-like) body form, or they can have a wider (cockroach-like) body form. The distinguishing feature of the scirtids is the long, multi-segmented antennae.

Typical habitats

Scirtids can be common in vegetation-covered streams or ponds.


Scirtid larvae use comb-like mouthparts to feed on organic detritus on submerged surfaces.

Indicator value

  • Hard bottom: 8
  • Soft bottom: 6.4

The tolerance values (ranging from 0 to 10) give an indication of which are the sensitive taxa (values of 8 or more) and which are the tolerant taxa (values of 3 or less). For more information see: Indicator species

Scirtids can be common in high quality forested streams, but they can also be common in tree-covered urban ponds. Their presence may therefore reflect more about the abundance of leaf litter than any aspects of water quality. They have tolerance values of 8 (hard bottom sites) and 6.4 (soft bottom sites).