How to Build the Perfect Dermestid Beetle Enclosure

Dermestid beetles offer a fascinating and natural alternative to traditional skull cleaning methods for taxidermists, hunters, and collectors. Unlike harsh chemicals or boiling, which can damage delicate bones, these industrious beetles meticulously consume tissue, leaving the underlying structure pristine. To create a thriving colony and ensure optimal cleaning, the right enclosure is essential. This guide will explore the key factors to consider when building the perfect home for your dermestid beetle crew, ensuring their well-being and maximizing their skull-cleaning potential. Remember, happy beetles mean happy (and clean) skulls!

It’s important to note that there are plenty of different ways to create a successful enclosure for your dermestid beetle colony.

Some will retrofit a shed with propane heat, others set up an aquarium or feeding trough with heat lamps or a heating pad, but what we have found to be most successful is retro-fitting an old chest freezer. Using this method, we have found that we are better able to control both the heat and humidity and are able to vent the enclosure outside which helps to mitigate the smells associated with the skulls, meat, and beetle colonies.

Anyone can make an enclosure for Dermestid Beetle colonies!

Using products and techniques that are easy to find and easy to repurpose, anyone with a will and a little knack for DIY has the potential to build a reliable working beetle enclosure. We hope this guide will help guide you in the right direction, point you to tried-and-true materials, and help you avoid any pitfalls when building or caring for your beetle colony.

Why build your own beetle colony enclosure?

We’ve found that our dermestid beetle colonies thrive when we are able to control their environment, especially when it comes to heat and humidity. Because of this, we recommend creating a sealed and controllable enclosure. The beetles thrive in 80-degree temperature. Therefore, when kept at this temperature they are more productive and yield faster turnaround times for skull cleaning. If it gets hotter than that they start to fly and when it gets colder, they burrow into their bedding and don’t move too much. If temperatures are sustained at these cold temperatures, the beetles will start to die off.

If you are located in a highly humid region, we recommend putting a small dehumidifier in the enclosure or in the building the enclosure is located in to regulate the humidity. Bugs (our beetles included) do not thrive in humid conditions. Humid conditions also invite mites, which can be devastating to your beetle colony.

When should you build your enclosure?

We encourage our customers to have their home ready before order. So, when your order arrives you can put them right into their home. This will help avoid any loss of viability or life from the colony by being in an unfriendly environment while the enclosure is being built.

Beetle Enclosure Guide Video

Please follow this video as best as you can for guidance on the enclosure itself, best practices for storage & temperature control, as well as things to avoid. Refer to the next section below on recommended materials and tools.

If you have any further questions, please email us, or call 406-490-9296

What You’ll Need to build a Dermestid Beetle enclosure

After a bit of trial and error, we’d love to share with you exactly what we used to put together our DIY Dermestid Beetle enclosure. In addition to an old chest freezer, you’ll find the following helpful for creating a beetle enclosure of your own! Like we said before, there’s lots of ways to build an enclosure, and some might be simpler or fancier. If you’d like to share photos of your finished enclosure, we’d love to see them and maybe even post them on our website!

Below are the products and materials we used to build our enclosure.

These products contain affiliate links. As of Feb 2024, the total cost for all products is $301.15, but may change over time so be sure to check for current pricing. There are also lots of variations of products that would also work for your enclosure.

Floor Register Vent

Floor Register Vent

Rocky Mountain Goods Floor Register Vent – 4-Inch by 10-Inch – Heavy Duty

$9.95 on Amazon

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Digital Hydrometer

Digital Hydrometer

ThermoPro TP49 Digital Hygrometer Indoor Thermometer Humidity Meter

$19.99 on Amazon

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Flexible Wall Ducting Kit

Wall Ducting Kit

Broan-NuTone WVK2A Flexible Wall Ducting Kit for Ventilation Fans

$25.98 on Amazon

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Steel woven wire mesh

Woven Wire Mesh

2Pcs Woven Wire Mesh – 80 Mesh 16×50 inches. Stainless Steel Mesh

$16.99 on Amazon

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Great Stuff expanding foam sealant

Foam Sealant

Great Stuff 157911 Insulating Foam Sealant, 20 Ounce, Ivory

$17.63 on Amazon

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Aluminum Foil Tape

Aluminum Foil Tape

2 inch x 65 Feet (3.9 mil), Insulation Adhesive Metal High Temperature

$6.99 on Amazon

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White LED Strip Lights

LED Strip Lights

16.4ft Dimmable LED Light Strip 6500K Bright Daylight White

$14.99 on Amazon

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Clear acrylic plexiglass

Acrylic Plexiglass

Clear Acrylic Plexiglass Sheet – 1/4″ Thick Cast – 12″ x 24″

$20.99 on Amazon

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Posdry 27 OZ(800ml) Small Auto Shut off Dehumidifiers with Drain Hose

$45.99 on Amazon

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3-wire power cord

3-Wire Power Cord

Bergen Industries Inc PS913163, 9 ft, 16 AWG, 13A/125V AC, 1625w

$6.67 on Amazon

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Porcelain Lampholder

Porcelain Lampholder

GE, White, Mount on 3-1/4” or 4” Box, UL Listed, 18304, 1 Pack

$3.99 on Amazon

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Ceremic Heat Emitter

Heat Emitter

GE, Ceramic, Mount on 3-1/4” or 4” Box, UL Listed, 18304, 1 Pack

$15.99 on Amazon

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Digital temperature controller

Temperature Controller

Inkbird ITC-308 Digital Temperature Controller 2-Stage Outlet

$35.00 on Amazon

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Cooling fan with thermostat control

Quiet Cooling Fan

AC Infinity AIRPLATE T3 with Thermostat Control

$59.99 on Amazon

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