Dermestid Beetle Starter Culture-


Availability: Out of stock

Quantity Available: -1

Dermestid beetle 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.


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.


Live Insect Shipping Schedule

Most orders placed by 4pm EST (Monday-Friday) will ship same day depending on your choice of shipping carrier. To know when your order will ship, refer to our complete live insect shipping schedule below.

  • FedEx Home Delivery will ship out Monday-Thursday if placed by 4pm EST.

  • USPS Priority Mail will ship Monday-Thursday if placed by 4pm EST.

  • FedEx Express 2 Day will ship Monday-Wednesday if placed by 4pm EST.

  • FedEx Express Priority Overnight will ship Monday-Thursday if placed by 4pm EST. Saturday delivery is available for an extra $15. You must call in your order for Saturday delivery option.

Shipping Quote

To get a shipping quote for your order, add the items to your cart and click on "Shipping Estimator" in your cart. Shipping prices are based on distance the package will travel and the weight of the total order. 

Josh's Frogs 3 Day Live Insect Life Insurance Policy

Our policy covers all live insect shipments that fall under the following requirements:

If live insects shipped via 2-3 day service:

  • temperatures during transit do not exceed 85 degrees for 2 day delivery

  • temperatures during transit do not drop below 20 degrees for 2 day delivery

  • someone is present to accept the package when it is delivered on the first attempt

If live insects shipped via 1 day service: 

  • someone is present to accept the package when it is delivered on the first attempt

  • temperatures during transit do not drop below 10 degrees

Claims on Live Insect Orders

  • We must be contacted within the first 3 days of the package arriving

  • Customer must be able to provide a picture via email if asked

We will not replace or refund any live insects after 3 days after arrival of the package. For our full policy visit the 3 Day Live Insect Life Insurance Policy section of our website.