Our Dermestid Beetle Starter Colony is for those who need a lot of Dermestid beetles and larvae quickly. It’s well-suited for at-home taxidermy projects like bear or deer skull cleaning, or any other job that requires meat-eating insects to remove flesh from bone. This includes cleaner crews in large (or multiple) roach colonies.
The 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.
Because we use them as cleaner crews in our own Dubia roach colonies, we feed our Dermestids only pure meat that is free of added chemicals. We do not feed them dog food or other processed commercial products. Our goal is no antibiotics or pesticides. To that end, we give our Dermestid colonies just pure, minimally processed meat. When we need to boost their numbers, we collect beetles and larvae from our organic roach colonies.
These beetles and larvae are very effective carcass cleaners, and their population can rapidly increase to meet current food supply. They have voracious appetites, which allows them to handle anything from huge carcasses with the largest bones in the world to the smallest and most fragile. Dermestid beetles have 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 eating dead flesh. They are not picky about what form that flesh takes.
However, while they eagerly devour flesh, they ignore bone, leaving behind pristine skeletons when they’re done. This is because they eat only carrion, which is muscle, cartilage, and skin.
And they don’t eat live flesh either. Only dead, rotting meat. This means they completely ignore live animals. Only rotting flesh contains the chemicals that trigger their feeding instinct. While the bones Dermestids clean may need some post processing for color, assembly, and preservation, the insects do all the soft tissue removal work. When they’re done, all that remains is bone. The skin, flesh, cartilage, and other soft tissues are gone.
The ratio of beetles to larvae in the Dermestid Beetle Starter Colony depends on the make-up of the source colony at the time of collection. Sometimes there are more beetles while other times there are more larvae. This fluctuates with time, but either way, their numbers grow quickly. Just give them the warmth, food, and darkness they need to grow and they’ll do the rest. Dermestidae are opportunistic feeders, so they rapidly increase their numbers when food is available. They eat, breed, eat some more, and then move on to another food source. Their eggs hatch in about 5 days. Beetles lay eggs nearly non-stop, and larvae eat almost constantly.
Ramping up Dermestid production is easy, and it’s important to start with healthy stock. To that end, we put a lot of effort into raising healthy Dermestidae. We keep our colonies in climate-controlled rooms. Our colonies are mite-free. We make every attempt to give all our insects optimum conditions for growth and reproduction. We even feed them from our organic roach colonies whenever possible. The result is healthy, vigorous Dermestids. All our insects are vigorous and healthy. They are primed and ready to eat and reproduce, which is exactly what you want from a starter colony.
In fact, we’re so confident you’ll be satisfied with our Dermestids that we guarantee them. You can return them to us for a refund if you’re unhappy with them for any reason.
Dermestid Colony Care
Caring for a Dermestid beetle colony is relatively easy. They require little attention after their enclosure is set up. You can read about Dermestes care and maintenance here. While it’s geared toward people who use them as dead roach-scavenging cleaner crews, the information is true for many applications. You should begin here if you’re unfamiliar with Dermestid beetle care.
You will find that Dermestid beetles have very basic needs that include food, water, and a dark space between 70°F and 85°F. As such, you can grow a colony to any size you like. All they need are the right conditions and time.