Although insects seem absent in the winter in temperate climates, they remain all around us. Adult lady beetles and boxelder bugs often seek winter shelter inside buildings. Many other insect adults survive the winter by hiding underground, deep in tree bark, or in rotting wood. This rove beetle (order Coleoptera, family Staphylinidae) was nestled deep inside a decaying tree.
As you can tell from the motion blur of the antennae, this individual was very much alive. It would be hard to describe its habits, since there are over 50,000 known species of rove beetles and they are very diverse. They may now be the single largest family of animals on the planet.
The most obvious diagnostic characteristic of this family centers on the shortened elytra (the hard shells that cover the hind wings). Most beetles have elytra that cover their entire abdomens (or nearly so). With rove beetles, the elytra usually cover less than half of their abdomens (see photo above). There are exceptions to this, however.