Natural Resources, School of


First Advisor

Dr. Leon Higley

Second Advisor

Dr. David Wedin

Third Advisor

Dr. Karl Reinhard

Date of this Version

Winter 12-2018

Document Type



Adams, Braymond V, 2018. M.S. Thesis, THE BIOLOGICAL SIGNIFICANCE AND UTILITY OF FEEDING BY DERMESTES MACULATUS. University of Nebraska -Lincoln, Lincoln, NE


Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree Master of Science, Major: Natural Resource Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Leon G. Higley. Lincoln, Nebraska: December 2018

Copyright (c) 2018 Braymond V. Adams


With their efficient feeding habits and tolerance to very low moisture and humidity, beetles in the Family Dermestidae are especially adapted to variable environments and habitats. Dermestid cultures have been in use since 1922 in cleaning tissue and flesh from bones, and proven benefit in multiple fields, including zoology, ornithology, and forensics. Dermestid feeding behaviors when coupled with known life stage and insect succession information aids in providing significant entomological evidence. However, the feeding activities of insects, like those of vertebrate scavengers and predators, change remains and may leave artifacts that can be sometimes be difficult to assign to a cause. Given their eating habits, dermestids play a distinctive role in many habitats by feeding on dry animal tissue. Rather than representing a physiological adaptation to occupy a specific biome, the physiological preference D. maculatus has evolved seeming to show strong evidence of how they’ve niche specialized for a feeding guild, the carrion insects. The secondary objective stated as a separate study takes an in-depth look at trace marks. Our results from exposing fleshed bones to D. maculatus adults and immatures for almost two months after complete tissue removal, indicates that under natural conditions D. maculatus do not feed on bones.

Advisor: Leon G. Higley