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Hide Beetle (Dermestes maculates)

Hide beetle of the skin beetles (Dermestidae) family has a wide and extensive distribution found in almost every continent except Antarctica. They are mostly known to infest stored animal products, also found underneath carcasses.

Hide Beetle

Scientific Classification

  • Family: Dermestidae
  • Genus: Dermestes
  • Scientific name: Dermestes maculatus

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 5.5 – 10 mm (0.21 – 0.39 inches)

Color: It has a black or brown body with silvery-white coloration underneath.

Other Characteristic Features: They have short antennae, being clubbed towards the tip.

Dermestes maculates

Larva

The larva’s body is covered with setae, giving it a hairy, bristled appearance.  The abdomen appears yellowish-brown at the bottom, while the dorsal region has a dark brown coloration, intersected by a yellow line. On the upper part of their last segment lie two projections resembling a horn hidden partially by the hairs around it. The mature larva makes it burrow in wood, plaster, Styrofoam, or even cracks and crevices for creating pupal chambers.

Hide Beetle Larvae

Pupa

The pupae are smaller than the larvae, having an oval shape devoid of any setae. The pupal stage lasts from 5 – 30 days approximately.

Egg

The eggs are small and round with a creamy white color hatched between 2 and 6 days upon being laid.

Quick Facts

Lifespan4 – 6 weeks
DistributionThroughout all the continents other than Antarctica
HabitatGrasslands, forest floors, deserts, trees near abandoned bird’s nest, and even houses
Common PredatorsAnt (eats the larvae), birds, spiders
Seasons active fromJune – October
Diet  of larvae and adultsCarrion, dry animal products, dried meat and fish, bacon, cheese, poultry, dog treats, turkey, animal droppings, feathers, stuffed animals, wool, small bones, fur

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They consume the carcasses to the extent of reducing them to bones. Both the larvae and adults contaminate the food they infest and also drill into wood and corks, causing holes in them while making pupal chambers.

Did You Know

  • As mentioned above, this species has negatively impacted the silk industry. In fact, in Italy in 1931, this species was responsible for the pebrine disease that mainly affected silkworms.
  • In India, the silk production incurred a 20% loss in 1987 as the larvae of these beetles consumed the silkworm pupae.
  • Their presence on the decomposed remnants of humans and animals helps estimate the post-mortem intervals in the case of homicide or suicide. These beetles arrive in about 7 – 11 days after the animal’s or human’s death, helping the investigators get close to accurate information.
  • The hide beetles have also been used in museums, universities, and for skeletal preparation. This species will help remove flesh from the bones of the dead animals due to their carcass eating tendency.
  • The hide and larder beetles are close cousins, both belonging to the same family yet with visible differences. The former is brown or black, with a silver-white bottom, while the latter has a yellow-spotted band against its brown body.
  • Isolating damaged objects, vacuuming the cracks and crevices, and treating the wood used for making pupal chambers are the several adoptive treatment measures.
Hide Beetle Picture

Image Source: hortnews.extension.iastate.edu, lh3.googleusercontent.com, bugguide.net, biolib.cz

Hide beetle of the skin beetles (Dermestidae) family has a wide and extensive distribution found in almost every continent except Antarctica. They are mostly known to infest stored animal products, also found underneath carcasses.

Hide Beetle

Physical Description and Identification

Adult

Size: 5.5 – 10 mm (0.21 – 0.39 inches)

Color: It has a black or brown body with silvery-white coloration underneath.

Other Characteristic Features: They have short antennae, being clubbed towards the tip.

Dermestes maculates

Larva

The larva’s body is covered with setae, giving it a hairy, bristled appearance.  The abdomen appears yellowish-brown at the bottom, while the dorsal region has a dark brown coloration, intersected by a yellow line. On the upper part of their last segment lie two projections resembling a horn hidden partially by the hairs around it. The mature larva makes it burrow in wood, plaster, Styrofoam, or even cracks and crevices for creating pupal chambers.

Hide Beetle Larvae

Pupa

The pupae are smaller than the larvae, having an oval shape devoid of any setae. The pupal stage lasts from 5 – 30 days approximately.

Egg

The eggs are small and round with a creamy white color hatched between 2 and 6 days upon being laid.

Quick Facts

Lifespan4 – 6 weeks
DistributionThroughout all the continents other than Antarctica
HabitatGrasslands, forest floors, deserts, trees near abandoned bird’s nest, and even houses
Common PredatorsAnt (eats the larvae), birds, spiders
Seasons active fromJune – October
Diet  of larvae and adultsCarrion, dry animal products, dried meat and fish, bacon, cheese, poultry, dog treats, turkey, animal droppings, feathers, stuffed animals, wool, small bones, fur

Identifying the Damage Caused by Them

They consume the carcasses to the extent of reducing them to bones. Both the larvae and adults contaminate the food they infest and also drill into wood and corks, causing holes in them while making pupal chambers.

Did You Know

  • As mentioned above, this species has negatively impacted the silk industry. In fact, in Italy in 1931, this species was responsible for the pebrine disease that mainly affected silkworms.
  • In India, the silk production incurred a 20% loss in 1987 as the larvae of these beetles consumed the silkworm pupae.
  • Their presence on the decomposed remnants of humans and animals helps estimate the post-mortem intervals in the case of homicide or suicide. These beetles arrive in about 7 – 11 days after the animal’s or human’s death, helping the investigators get close to accurate information.
  • The hide beetles have also been used in museums, universities, and for skeletal preparation. This species will help remove flesh from the bones of the dead animals due to their carcass eating tendency.
  • The hide and larder beetles are close cousins, both belonging to the same family yet with visible differences. The former is brown or black, with a silver-white bottom, while the latter has a yellow-spotted band against its brown body.
  • Isolating damaged objects, vacuuming the cracks and crevices, and treating the wood used for making pupal chambers are the several adoptive treatment measures.
Hide Beetle Picture

Image Source: hortnews.extension.iastate.edu, lh3.googleusercontent.com, bugguide.net, biolib.cz

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