Dermestidae Beetles, or dermestids, are called by many names. Dermestid comes from the Greek word dermis which means skin and is often referred to as skin beetle, flesh-eating beetle, carpet beetle, leather or hide beetle, khapra beetle, or carrion beetle.
These beetles are tiny, which grows to about 2 to 12 millimeters long. The males are usually shorter than the females. They come in black or brown colors with hairy covering. These beetles multiply through laying eggs, which hatch in meat or within its proximity. The larvae are also hairy and mostly brown with yellowish stripes. They have many uses and they also have various destructive roles.
The Good: Scientific Associates
Forensic laboratories, museum curators, taxidermists and scientific researchers have always turned to dermestids to help them skeletonize carcasses as specimens for evidence or collection. They are the preferred choice of experts in cleaning skeletons compared to their chemical counterparts because the latter can often cause damage on the bones, such as discoloration or marks that can unfavorably affect an evidence or museum display.
Colonies of these beetles are contained by experts for their scientific processes. After the beetles are used to eat the flesh from cadavers so that only bones and skeletons remain, the specimen is placed in a freezer so that the beetles will not escape and infest the rest of the laboratory.
The Bad & The Ugly: Household Pests
While they are of use in laboratories, they are destruction to many households. If one is not careful and these bugs get into a house, they can infest desiccated and organic substances like carpets, wood, things with feathers, furs, woolen fabrics, and similar materials. They can get into your clothing, upholstery or curtains.
Why are they in your house, in the first place? These unwanted beetles may be attracted to get in your house if a dead animal is present. When you see them in your home, check your interiors thoroughly. There might be a lifeless mouse or pest stuffed somewhere without your knowledge. Wasp nests, animal hair build-up, or food, especially meat, which is left out in the open may also invite these beetles into your home. Once you discover them, contact an exterminator to take care of the problem.
There are many types of beetles in this world. They range from harmless little creatures to the very harsh and dangerous for forests, the Asian Long Horned Beetle. But did you know that you could be eating beetles or applying them to your skin potentially every day? I feel like I sensed your jaw drop. Yep, many of us eat beetles and / or put them on our skin without even knowing it. So what am I talking about? How are beetles being used in the way? Find out below.
Red Food Dye
Ever wonder how your ice cream, yogurt, candy, and fruit drinks get their color? Pink, red, and purple are among the colors that beetles can make. More specifically, the red cochineal beetles. These beetles are farmed on large scales, then harvested, then dried, and finally crushed to produce a red dye called carmine. Until this year where the FDA has changed the law, this dye was referred to as ‘artificial color’, ‘color added’ or the classic “natural and artificial coloring.” Additionally to food products, carmine is also used in some lip sticks! Who would have thought that so many of our foods and drinks could be colored with beetles?
Crazy to hear that beetles are sometimes used in workout supplements. It is made from a beetle that secretes an acid like juice which is called cantharidin. This ‘juice’ comes from this beetles leg joints when it is threatened. Seeing as it is very difficult to remove the juice from the beetle, they are simply dried as a whole and crushed to produce a powder. When this powder is ingested, your body excretes the cantharidin in the urine. But this stuff can be very dangerous in higher quantities so it is best to first see your doctor before you take any of these supplements.
Beetles: they aren’t exactly your favorite bug to discover in your home, or crawling around in nature if you’re pest-phobic. However, beetles aren’t always harmful; some can be perfectly friendly, leaving humans alone and carrying on with their bug business in solitude. Yet some, like the Asian Long Horned Beetle, have more dangerous reputations. The Asian Long Horned Beetle is an unusual species, and one that can be quite destructive to nature and trees of so many different types. They can even bite the skin but it won’t have too much effect on us. Here are a few facts about this fascinating and damaging beetle.
They Adore Trees
The Asian Long Horned Beetle loves trees of many different types. They live in, and feast on, recently felled trees and healthy hardwoods. Their favorite, and most typical hosts re maple, birch, poplar, willow, elm, apple, cherry, pear, citrus, and even mulberry trees.
They Endanger Forests
The Asian Long Horned Beetle carries the potential to damage about 48 million acres of forests in the United States. This beetle could decimate entire forests from the shores of New England all the way into the Great Lakes of the Midwest.
Females Weigh More
According to scientific researchers who have studied the Asian Long Horned Beetle, females tend to weigh more than males. The female bugs weigh approximately 0.7 grams, while the males typically weigh 0.5 grams.
They Weren’t Always Native to the U.S.
First discovered in China, Japan, and Korea, the Asian Long Horned Beetle earned its name because it is a species native to these Asian countries. However, after an accidental migration to North America, this beetle quickly took up residence and became a native insect of these countries, too. Today, they are natives in both New York and Chicago – and, when they burrow into wooden packaging materials, they make their way to other corners of the world.
They Can Be a Tourism Killer
Because the Asian Long Horned Beetle can be so destructive to trees, its damaging potential could kill off fall tourism in the states of New England. Researchers estimate that the deaths of sugar and red maple trees in East Coast states would ruin the famous fall foliage, costing the region about $1 billion in revenue from tourism.
No one enjoys finding bugs crawling anywhere – not in the house, on your clean floors, nor in the dirt and plants of your backyard, where they naturally roam. Bugs just aren’t a pleasant sight, as they crawl, creep, and scatter along wherever they’ve been spotted. In the spur of the moment, watching an insect flit past us, our instincts tend to be to immediately squish, squash or step. After all, you don’t want to find yourself cuddling that same bug later on while you’re asleep. Yet not all bugs are bad or dangerous. In fact, some can be downright helpful for your garden, protecting against other insects, or even keeping your home surroundings under control. You just need to know which bugs are good – and which need to go.
The Bad Bugs
Earwigs: You’ve probably found an earwig or two crawling around in your yard – or worse, your home – marked with their trademark pincers attached to their abdomens. Earwigs are most certainly a “bad bug” as they’re an insect known for demolishing precious plants. If you have a garden full of plants you love, you’ll want to sweep it clean of earwigs. These reddish-brown or black bugs feed on plants of all kinds, from lettuce and fruits like strawberries to roses, dahlias, and other beautiful flowers. Though they aren’t poisonous, earwigs will “bite” humans with their sharp and stinging pincers.
Mexican Bean Beetles: The Mexican Bean Beetle is a well-known pest, one that’s notorious for killing off plant after plant in any garden. Though a close relative of the lady bug, the Mexican Bean Beetle causes considerable damage – their favorite crops to destroy are any in the legume family, such as green beans, lima beans, and wax beans. You can spot these damaging bugs thanks to their copper coloring and eight black wing spots.
The Good Bugs
Lady Bugs: A bug known by many names, from lady bug to lady bird, to lady beetle, this insect is harmless and friendly with really nice looking skin. You probably have fond memories of catching a few during your childhood days – and lady bugs are just as sweet as you remember. In fact, they aren’t even considered a true bug, though more than 450 species of the lady bug are native to North America. They cause no harm at all, and are drawn only to other insects rather than humans. If your garden features aphids, scale, or other soft-bodied bugs, you’ll find lady bugs around.
Spined Soldier Bugs: Any bug with a sharp, spiney appearance and disgusting smell may seem dangerous, but this isn’t the case with the Spined Soldier Bug. Although it’s the most common type of stink bug in North America, its spines cause no harm to humans. The Spined Soldier Bug loves feasting on potato, tomato, corn, apple, and even onion plants, but they aren’t there to destroy your crops; they just want to prey on the other insects trying to ruin your plants such as the Mexican Bean Beetle and grubs. This beetle harpoons only its insect enemies, not humans.
Chances are, if you currently live in the United States, you’ve never ingested a bug on purpose – unless, of course, you’ve traveled to another nation that loves to chew on insects. Although there are more than 1,900 edible insects present on Earth, according to the U.N., those in the United States just aren’t into eating bugs. However, countless other nations around the world incorporate bugs into their daily diets as an excellent source of protein. Although the Western cultures and world believe that bugs are particularly disgusting to eat, insects feature protein, fiber, healthy fats, and even minerals – and beetles are particularly delicious and healthy snacks throughout the world. If you’re considering snacking on insects, choose the beetle – and here are five perfectly healthy varieties to try.
1. June Bugs
June Bugs are a common type of beetle, found in many different areas and regions. Many cultures find them to be particularly tasty – they’re safe to eat, and are best cooked over a grill or fire. If you want to find some to snack on, search for them late at night in the midst of plants or plant debris.
2. Water Beetles
A favorite insect food in Thailand, water beetles are large and full of protein. Catch them, kill them, and remove their shells, and you have a healthy snack before you. They’re most commonly fried or roasted, and taste like scallops according to those who enjoy them.
3. Palm Grubs
Although palm grubs aren’t exactly the same as palm weevils, which are actual adult beetles, they are beetle larvae with soft bodies like that of worms. A popular treat in South America, southeast Asia, and the tropical regions of Africa, palm grub are a fatty insect snack with almost 70 percent fat. Fry these beetle larvae when you come across them – they don’t even need the addition of oil – or eat them raw, as both are popular methods.
4. Dung Beetles
It doesn’t exactly sound pleasant to eat a dung beetle, but these insects are considered the best tasting variety of beetle – and they’re one of the most popular bugs to eat all around. Dung beetles are found under fresh cow dung, but before cooking they’re cleaned, dehydrated, and seasoned to make sure they’re safely edible. Typically, dung beetles are eaten fried, but in South America these insects are the perfect side dish to pork and natural vegetables.
5. Longhorn Beetles
Finally, Longhorn Beetles are a popular choice of insect as well – there are more than 20,000 different species of this insect, and they’re all perfectly edible. This type of beetle consumes the wood of trees, meaning their flavor varies depending on what type of wood they most commonly eat.
Beetles reproduce sexually. Almost all of the species of beetles need a make and a female in order to reproduce and you can identify one sex from another using several methods. In some species, a male beetle is bigger with antlers that were designed for fighting. Some males have “bushy” antennae. Females are smaller and with very small (sometimes none) antennae’s.
Male Reproductive System
Males have a pair of testes that is located near the back of the abdomen. These testes have follicles where the sperm is produced. Mature sperm cells pass through the vasa efferentia to the midline of the body which leads to a single ejaculatory duct and out of the body through the aedagus, the male beetle’s copulatory organ.
Accessory glands also form part of the male reproductive organ. These glands have two functions. First is to produce seminal fluid that nourishes and sustains the sperm. Second is the production of spermatophores, a pouch-like structure that protects the sperm by encasing them as they are being delivered to the female beetle during copulation.
Female Reproductive System
Female beetles have a pair of ovaries, subdivided into units called ovaries and this is where the eggs are produced. These ovaries tend to swell when the insect is actively reproducing and they could fill the female beetle’s abdomen. As the eggs mature, they leave the ovaries through the lateral oviducts. The female accessory organs then supply lubricants and produce a protein-rich shell that surrounds the egg.
When the male and female copulates, the spermatophore is deposited by the male to the female and the peristaltic contractions would force the spermatophore into the pouch-like chamber called the spermatheca, where they will live for as long as a few years.
As the egg produced by the female passes through the spermatheca, this will stimulate the release of a few sperms where one of them will end up fertilizing the egg. After fertilization, oviposition or laying of the egg will follow and then the egg will begin its embryonic development. The beetle gives birth to thousands of baby’s. Can you imagine if humans gave birth to so many baby’s, think of all the diapers they would use!
Asian long-horned beetle is a beetle that can be invasive to your backyard or your community. This type of beetle first originated in China and was believed to have entered the U.S. through a solid wood packing material shipped from China. These Asian long-horn beetle are around less than 5cm long. Its body is shiny black in color with white spots and it has two long antennas. Although it is not generally dangerous to pets and humans, the Asian long horned beetle could bite if they are threatened.
This beetle is known to be invasive because it is considered as a pest, attacking hardwood trees like chestnut, willow, birch and maple. It feeds on healthy trees. So at this stage, there is no shortage of something to eat. Once these trees are being infected, they will end up killing it from inside out.
The female beetles would lay eggs on multiple locations, it can be on the exposed roots or the trunk of the tree. During that egg-laying period, adults would feed on the bark. The larvae on the other hand would eat the tree’s phloem, the innermost layer of the bark that is carrying the nutrients. Because of this, the tree will continue to weaken as it loses the nutrients it needs to grow and live. You will notice that the discoloration on the tree’s leaves, the holes on the trunk and the tree will soon die.
If these insects continue to grow and breed, it could devastate the trees in the community. There is also a possibility that it could affect maple syrup production, eventually affecting the maple syrup industry.
Protect yourself and your community. Do what you can to learn more about the specie. Educate yourself about how to spot the existence of the beetle so you can prevent it from spreading. Get involved if you need to. Check with your local community if they have an existing eradication program and cooperate so this can be kept under control.