September 15, 2010

Bug Ate Bugs: An Entomological Initiation Rite

This specimen of Dermestid beetle (ID’d by Lauren Allen) was collected from within the storage box containing the genetically modified mosquito collection at the Center for PostNatural History. A cursory examination of the now-empty box reveled an unsettling pattern of empty pins, barren of any of the mosquitos that were so carefully collected from Dr. James lab at UCI just one year prior. Attached to the top of the box was the little fellow you see posted here. It measures 1/8″ when relaxed and eventually grows into a black beetle famously used by Natural History Museums to clean the flesh off of bones, but also feared by Natural History Museums for getting into the fleshy portions of the collections and dining on irreplaceable animal skins.

Since it ate its way through most of catalog numbers CPNH.2009.1 thru CPNH.2009.10 (thankfully 4 of these were checked out at the time), we are tentatively assigning it catalog number CPNH.2010.3 with a name of WT.Derm.ate1-10. This is a special case as the beetle itself is not considered postnatural. However, since its entire diet over the course of its short life consisted of genetically engineered mosquitoes, it has earned a place in our collection through raw, frustrating, tenacity.

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