Flesh-Eating Beetles Come to Dothan

Wallace Community College in Dothan is using flesh-eating beetles to help students learn about science.

(CBS/AP)

The beetles were in Dothan on Wednesday! Not the rock n’ roll band, but the flesh-eating type.

They Were At Wallace Community College Where A Professor Demonstrated How The Beetles Are Helping Anatomy Students Better Understand Bone Structures.

Callace College Professor Jatin Patel said, “We use these beetles to clean the skull, they eat the flesh off the bones.”

These creepy crawlers may seem a little gross, but they serve a big purpose.

Patel said, “What I do is take a squirrel, skin it, dry it, then put the beetles in there and they will eat everything leaving just the bones.”

They're called dermestid beetles.

After they clean the bones, Patel can bleach them making them easy for students to study.

The flesh-eating beetles offer an opportunity for students at Wallace to get a more hands-on approach to education.

Wallace College student Misty League said, “At Wallace we don't get to do dissections, but this [squirrel] is already open and we can see where he took the lung, heart and intestines out and we get to see what the beetle did.”

This opportunity is one even many 4-year colleges don't offer in Alabama.

Patel said, "I know I'm the only one around here doing this and it lets the students know what happens to animals after they die."

And while the beetles attack dead flesh...

Patel said, “They're actually safe to have, I let them crawl on me all the time, on my hand.”

After the beetles finish cleaning up this squirrel, Patel says he plans to have them devour a snake, all in the name of science.

Patel says it will take about a week to a week and a half for the beetles to completely clean up the squirrel to make is ready for student use.


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