An unusual hobby has turned into a thriving business for a Southwest Washington man, who performs beetle-assisted taxidermy.
Ken Hansen, who owns Kodiak Bones and Bugs Taxidermy, has a shed outside his home in Lyle, WA that houses more than 400,000 beetles.
Hunters and museums send Hansen skulls and skeletons, which Hansen strips of flesh using the beetle larvae, which he said consume 15-18 pounds of flesh a week.
Hansen started using beetles as a hobby during his time in Kodiak, Alaska, where he worked as a game warden and hunted recreationally.
“It takes anywhere from a couple days to 3-4 days depending on the amount of beetles involved. But it’s relatively quick, and they are just surgical in their cleaning,” said Hansen.
The advantage of using beetles to traditional processes like boiling is that the beetles do significantly less damage to the bone, and preserve some of the finer details of the skull.
There is an unavoidable consequence to using beetles in this fashion, though. The smell is quite pungent.
“We have a Rubbermaid container on the back porch, and all the clothes go into that receptacle,” said Deb Hansen, Hansen’s wife. “No one enters the house with that smell.”
The beetles turn a tidy profit, though, which keeps Hansen in business.
His beetles are currently cleaning the bones of an entire polar bear skeleton from Barrow, Alaska.
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