Dermestid Beetle Facts

Beetles, Beetles, Everywhere! In Your Pasta, In Your Hair!

Dermestid Beetle Facts

Photo Credit: Rikomatic

Beetles- certainly not the most delicious topic of discussion, but one that is exceptionally necessary to read about, especially when you live in a home and have clothes, food, blankets, towels, etc. (Generally everyone should fall into this category!) Why would owning those things matter, you ask? The Dermestid beetle is known for lurking around homes and devouring hair, wool, fur, feather, grain, flour, cocoa, and silk products. Nasty, I know, but it only goes downhill from here. These beetles are also known to consume the flesh of dead animals. Now that we have a gruesome picture in our heads of what these tiny little vampires do, let’s look deeper into the science of the creepy crawlers.

Some Dermestid Beetle Facts:

  • The Real Name: Although they are commonly called bugs, beetles, or other obscenities after they’ve chewed a hole through your favorite sweater, the real name of these critters is Dermestidae. Dermestidae is their family name under the order Coleoptera, class Insecta, phylum Arthropoda, and kingdom Animalia. The naming system seems complex, however, when breaking down the name Dermestidae, it makes perfect sense. “Derma” means “skin”, and “este” means “to consume”. Their name literally tells you what they do- chomp flesh.


  • The Origin: Where do these creepy little things come from? Many people would love to know. They are found in all types of areas extending from humid to dry places, tropical to urban places, in the wild to in our homes. The origin is highly debatable. Some regions of possibility are Europe, Middle East, or South-Central Asia. There are also many countries that could potentially be the origin which include Algeria, Austria, Egypt, India, Mali, Spain, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Libya, etc. Each area of research is unsure of the exact first existence.


  •  The Life Cycle: The Dermestid Beetle morphs through an entire life cycle from egg, larva, pupa, to adult. It could take around 5 or so months for the egg to make it all the way into an adult beetle. The larval stage is known to be the most damaging. Typically the adult beetles eat more flowers and plants opposed to the in-home products. The size might range between 1-12 mm. The coloration can vary depending on different beetles. Common visual characteristics include setae and clubbed antennae.

    Dermestid Beetle Larva  and Pupa

    Dermestid Beetle Larva (right) and Pupa


  •  Good for Something: Now, it is always said to see the glass half full. Optimistic minds have to see a good side to everything, right? Even beetles. Interesting dermestid Beetle Facts include, for example; if an offensive rodent deceases in your home, the Dermestid beetle can eat the remains. On a larger scale, these beetles have been known to be useful all around North America to museums and dermestid beetle taxidermy to aid in the cleaning of animal skeletons. They have likewise been grand helps in criminal investigations. When insect biology benefits a criminal investigation it is known as forensic entomology. Who knew these little pests could play a larger role in the world beyond simply raiding your pantry and invading your closet?