Environment Magazine

Wild & Weird: Need Green Cleaning Products? Try Flesh-eating Beetles

Posted on the 12 December 2012 by Earth First! Newswire @efjournal

by the Center for Biological Diversity220px-Human_Skull_being_cleaning_by_Dermestid_Beetles

Looking for Earth-friendly, nontoxic home-care solutions that really work — at least for maintaining your personal collection of display-ready skeletal specimens? The Natural History Museum in London has landed on a great, albeit creepy-crawly, green alternative to peroxide and carbon tetrachloride: hundreds of flesh-eating beetles.

That’s right: Dermestes maculatus, a hairy beetle that lives on every continent except Antarctica, is now a working member of the museum’s preservation department, scurrying and nibbling away at cadavers of animals whose skeletons are destined for study and display. Unlike nasty chemicals, these six-legged solvents — which can consume nearly nine pounds of flesh a week — won’t cause damage to those valuable bones.

Check out this time-lapse video to see the beetles ravage a parrot, owl and pheasant; to see what they’re dining on in real time, check out the Museum’s live flesh-eating beetle cam.

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