How To Care For Dermestid Beetles

Why does one need to know how to care for dermestid beetles? Dermestid beetles are small yet important creatures in the fields of entomology and taxidermy, as they thoroughly clean soft tissue while leaving the bone intact. When caring for them, you need to be very careful and pay attention to details.

Join me as I take you through the step-by-step process of providing the best care for your dermestid beetles, from setting up their habitat to ensuring their proper nutrition and reproduction. By the end, you will have the knowledge and skills needed to care for dermestid beetle.


What are Dermestid Beetles?

How To Care For Dermestid Beetles
Dermestid Beetles

Dermestid beetles, also called skin or carpet beetles, belong to the Dermestidae family. They’re known for their ability to eat organic materials like animal skins, fur, feathers, and dead bugs.

You can find them in homes, museums, and other places where organic materials are present. Taxidermists and museums often use them to clean animal skeletons because they’re good at removing flesh and other soft tissues while leaving the bones intact.


Dermestid Beetles Life Cycle

The life cycle of a dermestid beetle consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

  • Egg:  The female beetle lays eggs in a good place for the larvae to find food, like in the substrate. The eggs are small, oval, and usually white or cream.
  • Larva:  Larvae hatch from the eggs and start eating organic matter like dead insects, skin, fur, or feathers. They grow quickly during this stage and are used for cleaning flesh off bones, which is useful for taxidermy and museums.
  • Pupa:  After the larval stage, the larva becomes a pupa. During this stage, it changes into an adult beetle. The pupa is usually still and protected by a casing.
  • Adult:  When the transformation is done, the adult beetle comes out of the pupa. Adult dermestid beetles are usually dark-colored with hard wing covers. They then fly and mate to start the life cycle again.


How To Set Up The Perfect Habitat for Dermestid Beetles

To set a good habitat for dermestid beetles this is what you need to do this. First, get a glass or plastic container that has a lid that fits tightly. Choose a size that fits the number of beetles you have. Put a layer of substrate, like wood shavings or peat moss, on the bottom for them to burrow and lay eggs.

For lighting in the habitat, keep it dim with a low-wattage bulb, as dermestid beetles do not like bright light. This helps them feel safe and act like they are in their natural habitat. You need to maintain the right temperature and humidity too.

Keep the temperature between 70-85°F (21-29°C) and the humidity between 50-70%. Use a digital thermometer and hygrometer to check these levels regularly. You might need to adjust the temperature and humidity with a thermostat and by misting the enclosure with water.


Read also: How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles; Carpet Beetles Infestation


How To Care For Dermestid Beetles

Give Them a Good Nutritious Diet. 

To keep your dermestid beetles healthy and productive feed them a nutritious diet. Their main food is carrion, like small dead animals or animal remains. Give them a variety of carcasses, like mice, birds, or big insects, to keep their diet balanced. Don’t feed them animals that have been treated with chemicals or exposed to toxins, as this can harm them.

Another you can feed your dermestid beetles is high-protein foods. You can use fish pellets, chicken feed, or a special insect diet to supplement their diet. These extras will help them grow and reproduce faster, making your colony more efficient.

Clean up any food they don’t eat regularly to keep their home clean. You can also add other insects, like springtails or mites, to help break down leftover food and stop mold from growing.


Maintain a Good Temperature and Humidity for Dermestid Beetles in Habitat. 

As mentioned before, keeping the right temperature and humidity is really important for dermestid beetles. If the conditions in the habitat go outside the recommended range, it can make them less active, slow their growth, or even kill them.

To control the temperature, you can put the beetle enclosure in a room with air conditioning or heating. Or you can use a heating pad or lamp to warm them up when it’s cold.

For humidity, you can mist the enclosure with water or use a humidifier. Just be careful not to make it too wet, as too much moisture can cause mold and harm the beetles. Be sure to check the humidity regularly and adjust as needed.


Clean and Maintain the Dermestid Beetle Enclosure

Regular cleaning of the enclosure stops waste, mold, and harmful bacteria from building up. Start by taking out any food, carcasses, and any other thing that the beetles have not eaten. Use tweezers or forceps to handle the beetles and avoid touching them with your hands. This minimizes the risk of transferring harmful bacteria or chemicals to the beetles.

Then, clean out any poop or old skins from the substrate. If you leave these waste materials, they will make the environment dirty. Change the substrate every few months to keep it fresh and clean for the beetles.

Make sure the enclosure has good airflow to stop the air from getting stale and too humid. You can add small holes for ventilation or use an air pump with an air stone. Good airflow keeps the beetles healthy and reduces the chance of mold or bacteria growing.


Read also: Carpet Beetle Eggs: Identification & Control


Breeding and Reproduction of Dermestid Beetles

Breeding dermestid beetles can help grow your colony and make them more productive. To help them breed successfully, make sure they have the right environment and food.

The first thing to do is add more hiding spots in the enclosure, like bits of bark or egg cartons. These give the beetles places to lay their eggs, similar to natural cracks. Check the enclosure often for small, white eggs or larvae.

When you find eggs or larvae, move them to a separate breeding container. Put the eggs or larvae with some substrate in the new container. Keep the temperature and humidity the same as in the main enclosure. As the larvae grow, give them plenty of food to support their growth.

The larvae will molt a few times before they turn into pupae and then adult beetles. This process takes weeks to months, depending on the beetle species.


Common Issues Faced in Dermestid Beetle Care

Despite your best efforts, you might face some problems when taking care of dermestid beetles. Here are some common problems you may see and the solutions for them:

  1. Mold Growth: Mold can grow if there’s too much moisture or not enough airflow in the beetle enclosure. To fix this, adjust the humidity levels, improve ventilation, and get rid of any moldy substrate.
  2. Slow Growth or Lack of Activity: If your beetles are not growing or seem inactive, check the temperature and humidity levels. Make sure they’re in the right range and adjust if necessary. Also, check their diet to make sure it’s giving them enough nutrition.
  3. Escapees: Dermestid beetles are good at climbing and might escape their enclosure sometimes. To stop this, make sure the lid is tightly closed. You can also use petroleum jelly or a moat of water around the enclosure as a barrier.


Tips for Successful Dermestid Beetle Care

Taking care of dermestid beetles needs careful attention and regular care. Here are some extra tips to help you succeed:

  1. Research: Keep learning about dermestid beetles and how to care for them. Stay up-to-date on the newest research and the best ways to take care of them.
  2. Start Small: Start with a small beetle colony and gradually expand as you gain experience. This allows you to focus on providing excellent care and prevents you from being overwhelmed.
  3. Monitor Regularly: Keep a close eye on the temperature, humidity, and health of the beetles. Regular monitoring helps identify any issues early on and allows for prompt action.
  4. Network with Others: Join online forums or local communities of beetle enthusiasts. Sharing knowledge and experiences with fellow caretakers can be invaluable in your journey of mastering dermestid beetle care.


Read also: Spider Beetles Facts: Identification & Behaviour



Becoming skilled at caring for dermestid beetles is a rewarding journey that requires patience, attention to detail, and a true love for these fascinating creatures. Follow the step-by-step guide provided in this article, to give the best care to your dermestid beetles.

With the right setup, food, and care, your colony will grow well, helping you in the fields of entomology and taxidermy. Enjoy the chance to help preserve our natural history and advance scientific understanding. Happy beetle care!


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