Have you ever gotten an order of dubia roaches in the mail and found a small, hairy worm? These small worms are dermestid beetle larvae, and it’s not uncommon for them to sneak their way into orders.

Today, let’s discuss what dermestid beetles are, how they end up among dubia roaches, and what you can do if you find one!

What are Dermestid Beetles?

Dermestid beetle adults and larvae

Dermestid beetles are one of the insect species roach breeders may use to help keep their breeding bins clean.

I know, it sounds weird to add more bugs to help clean up after bugs. But dermestids actually eat the carcasses and shed exoskeletons of dead insects like dubia roaches. This helps prevent mold and odors, and helps the roach colony stay healthy with little disturbance. Anyone who has bred dubias knows they don’t like to be disturbed, so this is a huge benefit!

Common Dermestid Assumptions

As with most things on the internet, there are a few misconceptions about dermestid beetles. Let’s go over a few of the most common assumptions now.

  • Dermestids are poisonous. There is no evidence that dermestid larvae or adult beetles are toxic to any reptile. In fact, some people include dermestid beetles as part of their bioactive setup.
  • Dermestid beetles will bite my reptile. Dermestids don’t seek out live animals. They would much rather eat dead bugs, carcasses, or even dead plant material. They don’t even like to eat newly dead animals, preferring the flesh to be somewhat dry first.
  • Dermestids are invasive. Dermestids are generally not considered invasive. However, they may eat natural fibers such as cotton, wool, silk, fur, and feathers, so if your home has a lot of these, they could become a problem for you.
  • Dermestids can fly. This one is partly true. While dermestid beetles can fly at temperatures above 80 degrees, they are not known to fly at lower temperatures.
  • Dermestid beetles stink. Yes, they can stink. If you’re keeping just a few in a roach colony, this isn’t a problem. But in larger numbers, dermestid beetles will give off an unpleasant smell.
dermestid beetle
This is an adult dermestid beetle up close. It is smaller than a dime!

What Should You Do with Dermestid Larvae?

Occasionally, dermestid beetle larvae, or even the beetles themselves, find their way into an order. If it’s your first time seeing a dermestid, this can be quite alarming! But don’t worry, dermestids won’t harm your pets.

If you find yourself with dermestid beetles or their larvae, there are a few things you can do with them.

  1. Feed them to your reptile. There are no known dangers to feeding the occasional dermestid beetle or dermestid larva to your beardie, gecko, or other reptile. The larvae are good for dusting because their little hairs trap the calcium dust. However, some people don’t want to feed dermestids to their reptiles, and that’s okay too.
  2. Keep them with your feeder insects. If you breed your own dubia roaches, adding a few dermestids to your colony can help keep your bins clean.
  3. Throw them out. If you don’t want to feed dermestids to your pet and don’t have a colony of bugs to add them to, your best bet is to freeze them for 24 hours before throwing them out. Why freeze them first? This extra step will ensure they are disposed of properly and won’t escape the garbage can.

If you would like to learn more about dermestid beetles, you can check out this article.

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