Flesh-eating beetles, or dermestids, are harmless creatures that eat flesh off animal carcasses, including those of humans. The larvae of dermestid beetles feed continuously until all that’s left is bone. This process is known as skeletonization and is often used by taxidermists, museum curators, and law enforcement to aid forensic work—the bugs can clear bones of flesh to expose evidence, which can be destroyed by harsh chemicals. Better yet, you can find bugs for sale via providers such as Kodiak Bones & Bugs Taxidermy!

A question often asked is: How many beetles do I need? Beetle larvae are just 12 millimeters long, but they can consume flesh quickly. When you are considering a large specimen such as an animal skull, an entire colony of insects is required. Here are some pointers to give you an idea of what you would need:

  • For a single skull, a colony of at least 300 beetles is necessary. This is the minimum to get started with a beginner colony. The colony can then feed off available flesh and grow. You can buy beetles online and watch them flourish. After a few weeks, there may be enough beetles to consume one or two deer or bear skulls.
  • If you’re expecting your beetles to tackle such a job immediately, then you should start with a colony of 1,000 or more. Taxidermists, forensic professionals, and hunters most often start with this amount to support their operations.
  • A production quantity would be on the order of 5,000 or more individual beetles for small businesses that provide skeletonization services. You can also send a specimen to us for skull cleaning, and we’ll put the bugs to work, and then send the finished product back to you.

Dermestid Beetles Survive Direct Shipping

Beetle/larvae colonies can be shipped directly to the customer. They’re shipped in a sawdust-like medium. This material is called “frass” and is created by the insects themselves. It also provides insulation that provides a familiar environment while the beetles are in transit. Beetle eggs are contained within the package as well. Once they arrive, the bugs can start cleaning and reproducing.

Thanks to extensive testing, the beetles can be prepared for shipment with proper feeding and watering. If necessary, heat packs are placed in the package. Each is marked “Do Not Freeze” and “Perishable.” Part of the ethical taxidermy process is to help ensure colonies arrive at their destination in good shape.

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Kodiak Bones & Bugs Taxidermy accommodates various types of customers. We serve those looking to perform skull cleaning at their facility or who wish to send their specimens to us for processing. We’ve conducted extensive research into how many beetle larvae are needed for skeletonization. Research into the environment required to sustain a large beetle colony has helped us and our clientele too. The right conditions can help keep your dermestid beetles going in large numbers. Contact us to learn more about our bugs for sale and taxidermy services.