Dermestes ater DeGeer
Article by Bruce Gow
Adult: Hide beetles are 7-9 mm long. The body is elongate-oval and uniformly dark.
Head: Antennae have 11 segments with a club. Compound eyes are large and positioned laterally on the head. The mouthparts consist of mandibles for chewing with 3/4-segmented maxillary palps and 2-segmented labial palps.
Thorax: Two pairs of wings are present. The forewings are hardened into protective covers called elytra. The elytra are not used in flight. The elytra protect the hindwings and serve as a dorsal exoskeleton. The hindwings are membranous, fan-shaped and fold flat over the body when at rest. All legs are similar.
Abdomen: Cerci are absent.
Reproduction & Life-cycle:Adults live 42-48 days. An adult female hide beetle will lay approximately 300-400 eggs during her life-time. Females oviposit 7 days after becoming adult. Fecundity is correlated with mating, temperature, food and water. Eggs are laid singly or in small clusters in concealed habitats. The eclosion period is 2-6 days. Larvae are approximately 15 mm long and very setose. The larval instar number is variable and increases with the lowering of temperature and food quality. The larval stage lasts approximately 35-238 days and is influenced by humidity. The pupal stage is 5-30 days and pupation occurs within a chamber constructed by the mature larva. The pupation site often creates economic damage. The life-cycle is 2-9 months.
Distribution:The hide beetle is a cosmopolitan larval pest endemic to the Americas.
PestStatus:Dermestes ater is a cosmopolitan pest of bones, carcasses, wool, wood and cork. Hide beetle prefers food with high protein content. The species is an occasional structural pest of homes and softwoods are selected as the site for pupation but not food. Hide beetle was reputedly found on Egyptian mummies in 1834 by F. W. Hope.
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