No question about it…they are fascinating insects. But these creeping, crawling critters known as dermestid beetles are happiest in conditions that we would label utterly, disgustingly putrid.
There are hundreds of species of these bugs worldwide ranging in size from one to twelve millimeters. A few common names are hide, larder, carrion, leather, and carpet beetles. Most are scavengers of decomposing animal material, but some can be extremely destructive to clothing, household products, structures, and grains.
The beetles are most active in warm temperatures that range between sixty-five and eighty-five degrees. They are easily found in nature by observing a rotting carcass or other carrion, and they can survive for extended periods of time without food. Their total life span ranges from two to twelve months depending on the beetle’s species.
Besides taxidermy work, it’s not uncommon to find museums, universities, and schools in possession of dermestid beetle colonies as part of their public education and natural history departments. They are also commonly used in forensic labs of law enforcement and game and fish departments to not only “skeletonize” a body or carcass submitted as evidence, but to determine the species and time of death.