Josh's Frogs

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Dermestid Beetle Starter Culture

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About This Product

Dermestid beetle (Dermestis maculatus) cultures are very easy to care for and maintain. They are most popular among taxidermists for the use of cleaning skulls and skeletons. They also make a great addition to roach colonies, where they feed on dead roaches and help keep the colony clean. Best of all, their hard work keeps any unwanted odors down!

Your newly purchased dermestid beetle culture from Josh’s Frogs comes with approximately 30-50 larvae, a dozen or so adult beetles, and numerous eggs within the cotton ball substrate in an 8oz deli cup. It will take about 90 days to cultivate an established colony, with a large percentage of larvae that can clean a carcass quickly. Adult female beetles will lay hundreds of microscopic eggs within the substrate and in crevices around the food source. Eggs will hatch in 3-4 days, and the larvae will molt around 7 times. Development from egg to adult generally takes 60 to 65 days.

Transfer the culture to a 5+ gallon aquarium with cotton ball bedding with a well-ventilated and secured screen top. This will also help prevent mold growth. Within the next couple of months, your culture should be large enough to move them to a bigger, 10-gallon aquarium. Check the habitat daily to ensure that all conditions are satisfactory.

Water & Humidity: Your dermestid beetle culture should have supplemental water until they become an established colony. This may be accomplished by placing a damp paper towel, sponge, or water crystals in their enclosure daily. Keep in mind that too much moisture however may result in the emergence of mites. Humidity levels should be between 50–60%.

Heating & Lighting: Dermestid beetles do best in temperatures between 70-80 degrees Fahrenheit. This is best accomplished by storing the colonies in a heated room, an under tank heat mat, or a non-light emitting heat lamp. At temperatures above 80 degrees, the adult beetles tend to fly. Dermestid beetles prefer to work in the dark, so avoid using any kind of special UVA/UVB lighting equipment.

Feeding: Dermestid beetle cultures can be fed meat scraps until they are ample enough to tackle skulls and skeletons. Colonies can go a week or two between feedings, if necessary, but growth of the colony is generally controlled by the addition of food. It's important to use whole meat (not ground - you want the stuff with meat, fat, and connective tissue), so your dermestids get a varied diet.

How to House: Dermestid Beetles need 3 things - food, surface area, and warmth. Food is pretty straightforward - they eat meat! Pork loins, whole meat that's on clearance at the grocery store, etc is all great - just make sure not to use ground meats. Cut the food into small portions, then freeze the rest. Feed enough for a couple days - ideally, you don't want rotten meat sitting around for long! Surface area can consist of cotton balls, which make harvesting easy and provide plenty of surface area for egg laying and for larvae to burrow. Dermestid Beetles like it warm - low to mid 80s is ideal, although they will grow and reproduce at room temperature.

Dermestid Beetles also make great additions to feeder insect cultures. In that case, simply place the cotton and insects in the culture container, then try and remove as much of the cotton as you can.


This product ships to your doorstep. Most orders placed before 2pm ET on business days will ship out the same day.

Import/export restrictions on this product require that it can only be shipped to destinations within the United States.

Restrictions on this product that prohibit shipping to the following states: HI.

Live Arrival Guarantee

This product is covered under our Live Arrival Guarantee. If your insect/animal does not arrive in good health, we'll make it right, provided the following criteria are met:

  • If shipped Ground, the temperature experienced during shipping must remain between 0 and 85 °F.
  • If shipped Two Day, the temperature experienced during shipping must remain between -20 and 120 °F.
  • If shipped Next Day, the temperature experienced during shipping must remain between -40 and 120 °F.

You'll be notified during the checkout process if your purchase qualifies for our guarantee.

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars

Based on 3 reviews

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5.0 out of 5 stars

Arrived in great shape and eager to eat!

My culture starter arrived all in great shape, very lively, and the larvae and beetles were all very eager to get started on the meat scrapes I have for them. Excited to see my culture grow and help me with my vulture culture hobby!


5.0 out of 5 stars

Arrived Great!

All arrived alive and eager to start eating an growing!


5.0 out of 5 stars

Must have for any Dubia colony

Great addition to a Dubia colony, they help clean up any dead Dubia roaches. They all arrived alive and started breeding right away.

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