Sunday, 25 November 2012

Beetles ate my Bumblebees

Spent a rather dispiriting few hours sorting out some of my cases and boxes of collected insects as many of the collections have again been decimated by carpet beetles and clothes moths. Even though I had some napthl crystals in the cases a few weeks ago there were still live wooly bears creeping about stuffing themselves on my beetles, moths and bumblebees. The bees look as if miniature explosives have gone off inside them with a plume of dusty remains only recognisable by their discarded wings. The French stag beetle heads, collected many years ago, were untouched and bits of cockchafer case also but anything soft has been consumed. The bottom of the cases are now a landscape of dust wings and disconnected legs. My board of pinned UK dragonflies and previously perfect bumblebees are also badly damaged with each specimen hovering delicately over an island of dusty remains, discarded by the voracious miniature beetles. I have sorted out the cases and put napthl crystals inside but I'm bot sure much that I can do will stop this happening again as I've also lost several of my best taxidermy birds this year and I really need to get on top of this before I loose more specimens.

Wikipedia - Naphthalene has been used as a household fumigant. It was once the primary ingredient in mothballs, though its use has been largely been replaced in favor of alternatives such as 1,4-dichlorobenzene. In a sealed container containing naphthalene pellets, naphthalene vapors build up to levels toxic to both the adult and larval forms of many moths that attack textiles. Other fumigant uses of naphthalene include use in soil as a fumigant pesticide, in attic spaces to repel animals and insects, and in museum storage-drawers and cupboards to protect the contents from attack by pests.

QUOTE, ref Carpet beetles : 'The larvae are just tiny when they hatch – less than a millimetre in length – which allows them to winkle their way through the smallest of cracks in any museum case. Feeding voraciously on any animal product in sight – they particularly enjoy stuffed animals, fur and feathers, and woollen textiles – the larvae swell up into “woolly bears” somewhat bigger than their ultimate adult forms. The varied carpet beetle larvae is dark brown at either end, lemon yellow in the middle, and hairy all over, while the two spot carpet beetle is torpedo-shaped with tufts of bristles at its posterior end." (From:

1 comment:

  1. Hallo man,
    I´m really sorry for you. I´m collecting insects since more than 20 years and never seen something like this before. For my experience, it need several years to completely eat all your insects in such way. My suggestion is to replace your boxes with completely hermetic wood boxes with transparent top glass. To immediately kill the parasites you can use acetone or trichlorethylene. Fill a small glass container with the liquid, put in the corner of the box, close the lid and wait a few hours until the toxic vapors saturate the atmosphere in the box. When acetone in completely evaporated, refill the conteiner and repeat. In your box is not completly hermetic, you can use transparent adesive tape to better seal the lid with the bottom part. Why you do not use the standard entomology pins? Here some pictures of my collections As you can see also with the use of acetone insects keep the colours and do not degrade. Most of them are 20+ years old.