Dermestid beetles, colloquially known as flesh-eating beetles, might not seem like the most appealing creatures to raise, but for those who appreciate their unique attributes and biological contributions, these insects are nothing short of fascinating. These beetles are commonly used in taxidermy and forensic applications, aiding in the cleaning of bones by consuming the remaining flesh on them. In this guide, we will detail how you can raise your own colony of dermestid beetles, based on our insights as a well-respected source for healthy dermestid beetle colonies.

Creating the Right Environment

To ensure a thriving colony, it’s crucial to create an ideal habitat for your dermestid beetles. An aquarium, terrarium, or large plastic container will suffice as a beetle home. While dermestid beetles can tolerate a variety of temperatures, it’s best to maintain an environment between 70-80°F for optimum breeding and feeding. Keep the enclosure away from direct sunlight and use a low-wattage heating pad if needed to achieve the desired temperature.

Choosing a Housing Substrate

The substrate is where your beetles will live and breed. Dermestid beetles prefer loose and dry substrates that allow them to burrow and breed. A mix of organic materials such as wood shavings, dried leaves, or coconut coir provides an excellent base for your beetles’ housing. To ensure optimal conditions, the substrate should be kept dry, so avoid any form of moisture or dampness that might encourage mold growth, which is harmful to the beetles.

Feeding Your Beetles

While dermestid beetles are widely known for their bone-cleaning properties, a diet consisting solely of bones can lead to malnourishment. These beetles require a diet rich in protein and fat, so feeding them fresh raw meat is ideal. Remember, variation in the diet promotes the overall health of your colony. You can provide items like chicken, beef, fish, or even roadkill, as long as it’s fresh and hasn’t begun to decompose. Avoid cooked meats and processed food as they can be detrimental to the beetles’ health.

Watering Without Wetness

Dermestid beetles extract moisture from the food they eat, but in dry environments, they may need a supplementary water source. To avoid dampness which can encourage mold growth, water crystals or water gel, often used for feeder insects, can provide an excellent source of hydration for your beetles.

Maintaining the Colony

A well-kept colony requires regular maintenance. Keep the enclosure clean by removing old food before it rots, and watch for any signs of mold or mites, which can decimate your colony if left unchecked. A healthy dermestid beetle colony will multiply rapidly, so don’t be alarmed if you notice an increase in their numbers over time.

Growing the Colony

It takes a while for a dermestid beetle colony to grow large enough for projects like bone cleaning. This growth depends on factors like temperature, food availability, and the size of your initial beetle population. However, once established, a well-maintained dermestid beetle colony can last for years, providing you with a renewable source of efficient bone cleaners.

Raising dermestid beetles can be a rewarding endeavor, whether you’re interested in biology, entomology, or you need them for a specific purpose like taxidermy. It offers the opportunity to observe a rarely seen aspect of nature, right at home. With patience and attention to detail, you can ensure the health and prosperity of your dermestid beetle colony for many years to come.

Are you ready to start your own dermestid beetle colony? Don’t wait! Share your journey with us and become a part of our vibrant community. Remember, every beetle breeder starts somewhere, and your adventure is just beginning!

Disclaimer: Dermestid beetles and their larvae can cause harm to stored goods, especially natural fibers. Keep the enclosure secure at all times to prevent beetles from escaping.