Our Dermestid Beetle Starter Colony is for those who need a large number of Dermestid beetles and larvae quickly. They can be used as cleaner crews in multiple roach colonies, but they’re typically used for at-home taxidermy projects like bear or deer skull cleaning as well as other jobs that require meat-eating insects to remove flesh from bone.
The Dermestid Beetle Starter Colony contains a mix of juvenile and adult Dermestes maculatus, commonly known as the hide beetle or flesh-eating beetle. This is the species taxidermists, museums, and universities use to strip flesh from bone during specimen preparation.
These insects are efficient and effective carcass cleaners. Their population rapidly increases to meet the current food supply, they have voracious appetites, and they leave behind pristine skeletons. This is because they consume only carrion, which is muscle, cartilage, and skin. They do not eat bone. They focus solely on cadaver cleaning, and they can handle anything from huge carcasses with the largest bones in the world to the smallest and most fragile. They’ve been used to clean massive whale bodies, small bird and reptile remains, and everything in-between. As their nickname implies, “flesh eating beetles” specialize in devouring dead flesh. They aren’t particularly picky about the form that flesh takes.
But don’t worry – they do need the flesh they eat to be dead. There is no concern that they might attempt to eat anything that’s still living. Rotting flesh gives off chemicals that living flesh and bone does not, and this drives their feeding. This is why they pick bones clean. While Dermestid-cleaned bones may require some post processing for color, assembly, and preservation, the soft tissue removal work is done entirely by the insects. When they’re finished eating, all that remains is bone.
With respect to the Starter Colony itself, the mix of beetles and larvae you receive depends on the composition of the source colony at the time of collection. Sometimes there are more beetles and other times more larvae. Either way, their numbers grow quickly. Just give them the warmth, food, and darkness they require for reproduction and they will do the rest. As opportunistic feeders, Dermestid beetles must rapidly increase their numbers when food becomes available, breed, then move on to another food source. Dermestid eggs hatch in about 5 days, beetles lay eggs nearly non-stop, and larvae eat almost constantly.
It’s pretty easy to ramp up this collective Dermestid eating machine, so the most important thing is purchasing healthy Dermestid stock for your project. We put a lot of effort into raising healthy Dermestidae. Our colonies are climate-controlled and mite-free. We make every attempt to provide all our insects with optimum conditions for growth and reproduction. We even feed them from our organic roach colonies whenever possible. The result is healthy, vigorous Dermestids. Our insects are primed and ready to eat and reproduce, which is exactly what you want from a Dermestid beetle starter colony.
In fact, we’re so confident you’ll be satisfied with our Dermestids that we guarantee them. If you’re unhappy with the Dermestid Beetle Starter Colony for any reason, you can return it for a refund.
Dermestid Colony Care
Caring for a Dermestid beetle colony is fairly straightforward. They require relatively little effort once their enclosure is set up. You can read about Dermestes care and maintenance here. The information is geared to people who use them as dead roach-scavenging cleaner crews, but it’s relevant to any application. The only difference is that you’ll need to set up a bin and provide food and water directly, rather than adding them to a roach bin and relying on roach die-off.
Increasing their population is also fairly easy, as Dermestid needs are pretty basic. These include food, water, and a dark space between 70°F and 85°F. You can increase your Dermestid colony to any size you want if you give them what they need, along with a little time.