Tuesday, December 11, 2007

StZA: Flesh-Eating Beetles

Death Online: Decomposition: Corpse Fauna has an interesting overview of the succession of organisms that decompose dead bodies.

Since they are the only insect that produces enzymes capable of digesting keratin and easily kept, colonies of thousands of dermestid beetles are used by taxidermists and museums to strip bones clean of flesh. Dermestids can be pretty hardcore.

Flesh-Eaters Are Latest Recruits at Natural History Museum

It seems that the hide beetle (Dermestes maculata) is the one most commonly kept for this purpose. There are plenty of sources for the insects as well as growing guides (1, 2, 3,4,

Hide beetles aren't as colorful as carpet beetles (Anthrenus verbasci), much less the American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) or even the interesting-looking Trogidae.

Nicrophorus americanus

Omorgus carinatus