Coffin Flies, Corpse-Eating Beetles, and Other Bugs with Gruesome Jobs

From food to forensics, bugs work on our behalf.

While some insects spend summer plaguing your picnics, others have more important—and rather creepy—work to do.

Pollinators give us staple foods, of course, but what about the working bugs whose jobs go unsung? We recently learned about several tiny cleaners who toil away in museums and even hospitals, so this week we’re giving kudos to them.

Skeletons displayed in museums illustrate how animals evolve, move, and protect themselves. In The Skeleton Revealed, Steve Huskey, a biologist at Western Kentucky University, reveals the bare bones of anatomy with the help of larval brown beetles just three-eighths of an inch long.

Once Huskey dissects and dries a specimen, these flesh-eating beetles, common all over North America, “get in every nook and cranny,” without

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