Welcome to Flesh-Eating-Beetles.com! Here you learn some fun and interesting facts about dermestid beetles and their use in skeleton preparation. You can also buy the book Beetles & Bones: Care, Feeding and Use of Dermestid Beetles, by Rob Graves.
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Important Facts About The Flesh Eating Beetle / Dermestid Beetle
Adult dermestid beetles, especially gravid (egg laying) females help you to rapidly build a dermestid beetle population. However too many adults may signal an unhealthy or mite-infested colony, so make sure your seed colony has dermestes at various stages of evolution, including tiny, medium, and large larvae, pupae, and adults.
People new to this hobby mistakenly believe that a few hundred beetles are enough to begin cleaning skulls. It’s true that you can begin cleaning small mice and rodent skulls with a few hundred bugs, but to clean deer, bear, boar, and big game skulls you’ll need thousands of beetle larvae as it’s the larvae that do most of the work. To attain these numbers you must “grow” your colony on smaller specimens and feed bones.
Beginners mistakenly assume that getting adult beetles is the key to fast colony generation. This is only partially true. You’re better off finding or buying a few gravid females than 500 post-egg-laying adults. You also need to find or buy the correct species of dermestid beetle. There are hundreds of Dermestes and most of them prefer carbohydrates, hence the name “pantry beetle.” There is one species in particular noted as a protein eater and that is Dermestes maculatus, which is what we sell. You want protein eaters for your colony if you intend to clean flesh off bones!
The dermestid beetle (also known as skin or carpet beetle) belongs to the family Dermestidae. Dermestes maculatus feed on moist animal flesh. D. maculatus is easily colonized as they undergo a complete metamorphosis from larva to pupa to adult in about 30 days at optimal conditions. Gravid adult females then lay dozen to hundreds of tiny (< 2mm x .5 mm) eggs. Within days tiny larvae emerge and begin looking for their first meal. The larvae are eating machines as they go through up to eight molts or "instars" before they reach about one inch in length. The large larvae then pupate, casting off their last larval skin, leaving them whitish tan. About eight days later (at optimal conditions) adults begin to emerge (see video on this page). Within five days the gravid females begin laying eggs and may lay up to 300 eggs in her lifetime. The dermestid beetle life cycle regenerated.