What Bug Is That? The guide to Australian insect families.

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Dermestidae usually feed as larvae on dry material of animal origin, such as insect remains, dry carcasses, hair or feathers, and they may occur in the nests of mammals, birds or social insects. Adults of some dermestids ( Anthrenus , Trogoderma ) are commonly found on flowers and feed on nectar or pollen, but others feed on the larval food source or not at all.


Oblong to broadly ovate beetles almost always with deflexed head and clothed with erect or decumbent hairs or scales, sometimes forming a pattern. Except for the Dermestinae, Thorictinae and Trichelodes , all dermestids have a median ocellus on the head.

Larvae elongate and subcylindrical to ovate and fusiform, with distinct tergites, and densely clothed with long hairs, some of which may be barbed ( spicisetae ) or spear-headed ( hastisetae ), serving as a defence mechanism by detaching and entangling potential predators (Nutting and Spangler 1969). Lacinia terminating in sclerotised spur or spine; mandible usually with membranous lobe and setal brush at base of mesal surface; and the urogomphi absent, except in Dermestes (and the exotic Thorictinae and Orphilinae).


The family includes a number of cosmopolitan stored product pests, such as Dermestes species (Dermestinae), which attack hides, furs and skins, as well as some foodstuffs, species of Anthrenus (Anthreninae) and Attagenus (Attageninae), which may damage carpets, blankets or other woollen fabrics, and various dermestids, particularly Anthrenus verbasci , which damage dried insect specimens. Only Trogoderma granarium is known to feed normally on cereal products, but it has not yet become established in Australia. Two other introduced pests known to attack insect collections have been found in the A.C.T.: the parthenogenetic Reesa vespulae , which has also been introduced into New Zealand (Waller and Watt 1979), and the unusual Thylodrias contractus (Thylodriinae), females of which are larviform. Except for Trichelodes delicatula (Trinodinae) and an undescribed trinodine from North Qld, all native dermestids belong to the large subfamily Anthreninae. Included are Anthrenocerus australis , which has been reported as a household pest, the myrmecophilous Myrmeanthrenus frontalis , and Thaumaglossa nigricans , which lives in mantid egg cases. [Armstrong 1945; Hinton 1945a; Mroczkowski 1968; Peacock 1978.]

  • Atagenus unicolor  larvae

  • Anthrenus museorum

  • Anthrenus sp .