As a taxidermist, you know the value of skull cleaning beetles, also known as dermestids. These hungry little bugs can do great work when it comes to cleaning skulls, but you may have questions about how to put them to good use in your home or business. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know to maintain a colony of skull cleaning beetles.
First, you’ll need to purchase beetles of varying ages to create a growing colony. You want a colony that is ever-growing and evolving, so you’ll want to include both adults and larvae in your purchase. It’s also important to check with your seller that the beetles you’re purchasing are free of pests and disease.
Next, you’ll create a perfect environment for your beetles to thrive. Dermestids are simple to care for. It’s key to create a warm environment, between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit, to help your beetles stay active. Heat lamps are essential. Never let your beetles’ habitat get below freezing, as dermestids cannot withstand these temperatures and will die. You’ll also want to consider placing your beetles in an area with great ventilation. Remember, your beetles are thriving on dead flesh – this can create an unpleasant smell in an area with poor ventilation.
In creating a home for your beetles, you have several options. Dermestids aren’t picky – they can live in a metal, glass, or hard plastic container. Keeping them contained in their home is important. If you have a taxidermy business, or you do taxidermy as a hobby, a beetle escape could mean that some of your hard work could go straight to their hungry stomach. In the habitat, add 1/2 inch of wood shavings. You’ll place a foam block over the shavings, and a sponge on top of the block. Add your beetles, then spray with a mist of water (a fine mist- you want it to be damp, not wet).
To feed your dermestids, you’ll place their food between the wood shavings and the foam. You can order food online, or you can give them a skull to clean. The skull needs to be fairly well-stripped beforehand, as beetles will not eat a fresh kill. If you’re caring for your beetles, you’ll notice that beetle eggs will appear on the sponge you’ve placed in the habitat, and after hatching, the larvae will eat the sponge.
Caring for your colony of dermestids is a rewarding, sustainable way to simplify your taxidermy business or hobby. Don’t be afraid to ask your seller questions about how to best care for your beetles.