Their heads constrict just in front of the pronotum, forming a neck, and the posterior end of the pronotum is usually narrow as well. Legs and antennae are slender, heightening the ant-like appearance, and the body is sparsely covered with long setae.
Adult beetles are omnivorous, being known to consume small arthropods, pollen, fungi, and whatever else they can find. Some types are of interest as biological controls, in the expectation that they would eat the eggs or larvae of pests. Larvae are either omnivorous, predators, or fungus-eaters; the young of one species of Notoxus have been observed boring into sweet potato tubers.
Many members of the family are attracted to cantharidin, which they seem to accumulate and that deters possible predators.
Synonyms of the family include Notoxidae and Ischaliidae.