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Skin Beetle

Dermestes caninus

Dermestes caninus, a skin beetle, photo by Michael Plagens

Photo taken 28 July 2012 at Mesquite Wash, Maricopa Co., Arizona. The beetle is 7 mm in length and was within a dry carcass of a turkey vulture.

ventral view of Skin Beetle, Dermestes caninus, © by Mike Plagens When an animal has been dead for a long time and has nearly lost the aroma of putrification it becomes a food source for adults and larvae of skin beetles. In the Sonoran Desert, hot and dry summer weather often dries out a cadaver very quickly. This skin beetle species (there are several) is found throughout much of North America. As the name implies, they feed on the dry skin and hair that is left after other scavengers have removed the flesh. Museums sometimes use these beetles to clean skeletons of specimens.

Dermestidae -- Carpet, Skin and Larder Beetle Family

The turkey vulture finally also must surrender to be recycled into the web of life,photo © by Mike Plagens

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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, page created 4 January 2013