top of page

Dermestes murinus Linnaeus, 1758







POLYPHAGA Emery, 1886

BOSTRICHOIDEA Latreille, 1802

DERMESTIDAE Latreille, 1804

DERMESTINAE Latreille, 1804

Dermestes Linnaeus, 1758

Dermestinus Zhantiev, 1967

This species occurs throughout the Palaearctic region to the far east of Russia and China, in Europe it is common in warmer southern areas and extends sporadically north to the UK and above the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia, it occurs from lowland to sub-alpine latitudes and unlike many members of the genus it is infrequently associated with human dwellings. There are records of infestations among stored animal products in warehouses and it has even been found in cocoons in silkworm farms but the majority of records are from the wild where they is associated with dry carrion and avian nests and have been recorded from discarded food waste. Under artificial conditions the species may be continuously-brooded but in the wild there are one or two generations each year depending on conditions, and both adults and larvae occur throughout the year, the adults overwintering under bark etc and becoming active from early spring. Adults are strong fliers and occasionally light, they are both diurnal and nocturnal and mating occurs throughout the spring and summer, the preferred host material seems to be old and dry carrion but larvae have been recorded consuming feathers and other detritus in avian nests, and have been found among human waste. Females mate multiple times and oviposit continuously through the season, laying groups of eggs among host material or in crevices nearby. Larvae may pass through multiple instars, up to eleven, and the life cycle is rapid, under good conditions from five to seven weeks from egg to adult, they usually feed in groups and fully grown final instars seek out crevices in which to pupate, those that cannot find a suitable pupation site can delay this phase for a few weeks although the resulting adults are smaller, and those that fail to find a safe pupation site are usually cannibalized. Adults may be sampled by searching through or extracting samples of host material or by searching at night, and they occasionally appear in light or flight-interception traps.

Dermestes murinus

Dermestes murinus

7-9 mm. Readily identified by the colour and distribution of the dorsal pubescence. Elongate and rather parallel-sided, entirely black or dark grey with unevenly distributed dark and pale decumbent pubescence which forms irregular transverse patterns across the elytra and patches of golden pubescence on the pronotum, scutellum and often also the elytral humeri, abdomen with extensive dense white pubescence which conceals the cuticle in places. Head with large convex eyes and short, slightly converging temples, evenly convex and densely pubescent above, antennae black but sometimes with the funiculus dark brown, basal segment long and broad, second segment large and quadrate or nearly so, 3-8 smaller and mostly transverse, 9-11 form a large asymmetric club. Pronotum transverse, widest near the base and curved laterally to a narrow anterior margin, posterior angles acute and slightly produced, basal margin straight medially and strongly curved towards the angles, surface with broad basal fovea, weakly convex and rather densely punctured throughout. Elytra broadest behind the middle, with rounded shoulders and a continuously-curved apical margin, surface densely punctured and without striae. Legs long and robust with femora only narrowly visible in normal setting, front tibiae broad and with a strong apical spur, middle and hind tibiae slender and with small apical spur. Tarsi 5-segmented, basal segments weakly lobed ventrally, terminal segment long and curved.  Males may be distinguished by having a tuft of pale setae at the centre of the third and fourth abdominal ventrites.

bottom of page