Dermestid Beetle Help!

Submitted by Jenelle on 9/21/04 at 12:46 PM. ( )

I have a Dermestid Beetle colony that has been doing really well for about 4 months now. I recently tried to put a whole (didn't skin it, gut it or anything) Arrowtooth flounder in this colony and found hundreds of my beetles dead within two days of putting it in there. I quickly took the fish out of the tank and removed anything that had been in contact with this fish (boxes, paper towels), but it still seems to be having an effect on them and they seem to still be dying. Is there something toxic in fish (i.e. Arrowtooth flounder) that would have killed the beetles? If so, is this toxin in all fish or is this something that is specific to Arrowtooth flounder?

I want to try to salvage my colony now that I have taken it you have any suggestions on what I should do to stop them from dying?

Also, my hope was to use fish in this colony. Have you ever put fish in a colony before and can you give me any tips on this for the future?

Please help! I have put a lot of time, money and effort into these beetles and I don't want them all to die now! Thank you.

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Probably not a poisen in the fish

This response submitted by The Taxidermologist on 9/21/04 at 2:04 PM. ( )

Feeding fish to a colony of dermestids does not cause it to die off - though your method of presentation certainly can be the cause. Whole fish or whole any animal is NOT the way to run a colony. The specimens should be skinned, gutted, large sections of meat removed, then dried to a consitency of jerky before presentation. You probably had a mite problem, or a mold problem, or some other factor.

I have read hundreds of papers on skeleton preparation, many on dermestid beetle cleaning, and there is only one reference regarding die-off of a beetle colony caused by insecticides in meat. See " Barlett, L. M. 1961. Dermestids killed when feeding on skeletons of birds killed by organic insecticides. Wilson Bulletin, 73(2):207.


This response submitted by Jenelle on 9/21/04 at 4:02 PM. ( )

Thanks for your advise. I do realize that it was a bad idea to throw the entire fish in there. I guess I was a little curious as to what would happen if I did it that I know. We haven't had any problems with the other specimens we have put in there, however, even if we leave the brain, eyes and tongue in tact.

I was curious about Arrowtooth in particular because they are not like other fish. If you've ever tried to cook an Arrowtooth before, you would know this all too well. The flesh contains an enzyme called protease that begins digesting protein when heated, so the meat turns to mush. I wouldn't think this is anything that could harm the beetles (which is why I decided to stick this fish in the colony in the first place), but now am wondering if this could be the case.

We still have hundreds and hundreds of beetles in the tank, however, so I don't believe we have a mite or mold problem, which is what made me believe it has something to do with the fish itself.

Anyway, thanks for the tip and the suggested reading!

While on the beetles Can I ask a QUESTION?

This response submitted by Jim on 9/21/04 at 5:26 PM. ( )

I just got a small starter colony of these Dermestid beetles, what should I keep them in? Old Freezer? Aquarium? I have both.
I didn't think far enough ahead on this one.

What I have mine in...

This response submitted by Jenelle on 9/21/04 at 6:20 PM. ( )

Hi Jim, I have mine in a 20 gal aquarium, which seems to work really well. You need to make sure to scrape off the silicone REALLY well (otherwise they will climb the sides and get out) and make sure to get a good lid to keep them inside - I use a plexi-glass lid with three large holes (covered with mesh) to venilate, while keeping them inside. I also have lined the bottom of the aquarium with dog food for a substrate...this works really well because not only is it a great substrate (and somewhere for them to pupate in), but it also doubles as a food source (which, believe it or not, they actually eat it).

I'm sure you've studied up on this already, but some other tips: make sure the temp doesn't go above 80 degrees (then they will be able to fly) and not below 60 degrees (will kill them). They also say that the humidity should stay around bugs like it at around 70, but they hate it when it get too low (20-30).

Other than that, I don't do anything with mine and, besides this little incident with the fish, they seem to love it! Good luck!

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