Ptiliidae inhabit a wide variety of ecological niches. Below is a brief survey of various ptiliid genera and the habitats in which they occur. Within Ptiliinae, the variety of genera are as diverse as the ecological niches in which they are found. Motschulskium occurs under seaweed found along the coastline of western North America. Actidium can be found in gravel and sand along the edges of rivers and streams. Pteryx and Ptinella live in tree holes and under bark of logs, as does Ptinellodes. Micridium can be also be found in tree holes, as well as forest litter. Ptenidium is found in compost piles, forest leaf litter and tree holes.
Members of Nanosellinae are specialists of fungi, usually of the polyporaceae. Exceptions to this rule include Hydnosella, which is known to occur on Hydnaceae fungi, and Suterina, which has thus far been collected in forest leaf or log litter. Few genera of Nanosellinae have yet to be associated with a fungal host.
Cephaloplectines are associated with ants, thus making them myrmecophiles. More work needs to be done to determine if certain species of cephaloplectines are specific to one host species of ant, or if they occur with numerous hosts species.
Acrotrichines are associated with a variety of habitats. Acrotrichis occurs on mammal dung and nests, decayed organic matter, and leaf litter. Smicrus is found in moist areas, especially near streams. Ptiliopycna lives on moss growing in swamps and bogs. Nephanes can be found in tree holes as well as rotting cactus.