Bug Blog

It’s A Good Thing That Flesh-Eating Beetles Only Devour Corpses

In this world, there is no shortage of dirty jobs that the majority of people would just assume avoid doing. For example, very few people find their calling in sewer maintenance or taxidermy. However, no job can be more disgusting, horrifying and macabre than stripping animals of their flesh in order to provide researchers with fresh bones to study. Believe it or not, there are actually well-educated people out there who are willing to spend their lives indulging in this type of work. Luckily, they can outsource the most gruesome part of the job to dermestid beetles, more commonly known as flesh-eating beetles.

At the Field Museum in Chicago, Anna Goldman is tasked with stripping animal corpses of all of their flesh. Goldman must also clean the bones that remain so that researchers can use them for scientific purposes. This job may sound odd, but where did you think researchers got their animal bones. Although Goldman often gets her hands dirty, she leaves most of the work to flesh-eating beetles that very few people even know exist.

These beetles may have an unenviable job, but they are no doubt very good at what they do. In just a short period of time, these flesh-eating beetles can strip an entire bull, cow, tiger or squirrel of all its flesh, as the beetle does not discriminate. In fact, these beetles would have no problem chowing down on humans, just as long as they are dead, as the beetles will not eat the flesh of the living (but not as a point of honor). The animal corpses are brought into the museum by volunteers, and no questions are asked. Most of the dead animal specimens are likely roadkill, but people could bring their dead pets in if they really want to do their part to contribute to science.

Have you ever heard of any type of insect that eats animal flesh?