Clean-Up Crew for Live Insect Colonies - Cleaner Dermestid Beetle Larvae


Recently PetWave received a call from Tony one of our loyal customers in Northern New South Wales. Tony is a large breeder of native and exotic finches who buys bulk live mealworms online through PetWave. During finch breeding, live insects such as mealworms are required to ensure healthy eggs, chicks and young birds.

Tony rang to report that he found a few stowaway live insects in his online live mealworms. He described these insects as grey furry larvae living in the bran that the mealworms are stored in. Tony was seeking reassurance that the extra insects were of no concern.

Upon investigation, it was discovered that some sneaky Dermestid larvae had slipped through the screening process and were hidden in the organic bran substrate that was fed to the live mealworms. It is known that stowaway insects can occur in any organic bran since by definition it can’t be treated with pesticides, as that would kill the live mealworms or other online live insects. Anyone who uses organic bran will get extra insects such as these in time.

PetWave sell Dermestid larvae and beetles online in Australia as dedicated live insects and are referred to as the “Live Insect Colony Cleaner Crew”.

Dermestid larvae and beetles are added to live insect colonies as a natural way to keep insect colonies clean, since they feed on dead insects, decaying plant material, old insect food, moulted skins, insect faeces and other waste. Dermestid larvae and beetles or the Clean Up Crew keep your insect colonies clean. 

Dermestid larvae and beetles have amazing cleaning habits which result in the prevention of mould and bacterial growth in live insect colonies. They do not compete with live feeder insect colonies. 

Dermestid larvae are a beneficial additional to live woodies colonies, live cricket colonies, live mealworms colonies, live superworm colonies and live black soldier fly larvae colonies.

Dermestids are also called flesh eating beetles or skin beetles and they are also often used to producing clean skeletons for natural history studies by eating the flesh off dead birds and animals. Amazingly, most animal carcasses can be skeletonised by a few thousand Dermestids within two days.  

The life cycle of the Dermestes Beetles insect are:

  • the eggs of Dermestes Beetles hatch in about 4 days;
  • the tiny larvae go through about 10 moults over approximately 6 weeks;
  • they then burrow and form a pupa;
  • after a week, they emerge as a beetle;
  • after 8 weeks, the female beetle lays eggs.


Dermestid larvae and beetles will live happily in a live insect colony functioning as the “Clean Up Crew”, so long as moisture levels are not too high. They are not dangerous to live healthy live insects in Australia and can be fed to pet reptiles and birds. These bonus insect add variety to your pets diet and are very helpful in keeping live woodies colonies, live cricket colonies, live mealworms and live superworm colonies functioning well in the long term.

Both the Dermestid larva and the beetles are edible as feeder insects and birds also.

Once he understood the situation, Tony was relieved that he actually received a bonus and fed some of the Dermestid beetle larvae to his finches who happily gobbled them up.

Please beware: Insect colonies containing Dermestid Beetles should be covered with a screen to prevent any escapees. In warmer temperatures, Dermestid beetles can fly short distances and they are not a desirable insect addition loose in your house. 



Order PetWave live Dermestid Larvae and Beetles Clean Up Crew for your live insect colony or to "skeletonise" a dead animal or bird for study at Clean Up Crew.

Order PetWave live feeder insects such as woodies, crickets, superworms, black soldier fly larvae, mealworms and earthworms online in Australia at live insects


About PetWave

PetWave is an Australian online pet supply company that is expert in shipping delicate, live and frozen reptile and aquarium products to you and your pet’s door across Australia. Order before 7:30am for next day delivery. 

PetWave are very proud to offer the highest quality and largest selection of live reptile food including live insects and frozen feeders especially for snakes, lizards, frogs and birds of prey and many other live aquarium fish, aquarium plants, beautiful decorations for your aquarium and terrarium. 

Visit PetWave at or email

Back to blog