View Full Version : A question about fire ants used as a taxidermy tool?

May 1, 2005, 11:55 PM
I've read mention in the past that a fire ant colony can be employed to strip a trophy to the bone.I'm curious about three things.First,during the summer how long would it take a colony to strip a boars head clean,second,are the ants themselves enough of a deterent to keep the head from being carried away by another scavenger?Finally,is this just an old wives tale & I should just search out some of those specialized beetles whose name escapes me?

Smokey Joe
May 2, 2005, 12:00 PM
(Struggling mightily to NOT make some kind of pun about Brit songsters from the '60's)

Dermestid beetles is what you want. Pick every scrap of soft tissue off the bone. Neat, tidy, quiet, and they don't bite people. Keep 'em covered; the adults, like most beetles, can fly. We used them in the biology lab in which I was an assistant 100 yrs. ago in college. Available through most live-specimen mail-order houses.

No idea re fire ants except that I would NOT like to take a skull into the house after they'd worked on it--how could you ever make sure you'd gotten every one of them off of/out of every little recess in the ears, sinuses, etc??? Fire ants DO bite people.

Something big like a boar's head will take any colony of insects close to forever (how fast could you eat through a railroad car full of steak, say) and the odor can get pretty fierce. If you have a sheltered outbuilding in which to house your beetle colony, that may not pose a significant problem. You can speed up the process by skinning the head and boiling off as much of the soft tissue as possible before giving the head to the beetles.

My wife would call this a criminal waste. She'd saw the head in half, remove the eyes, boil the meat, brains, soft tissue off the bones, and use the boiled stuff to make head cheese. She's a farm girl, Norweigian/German, and that was what they always did at butchering time. The head cheese was a family favorite.

May 2, 2005, 12:41 PM
If you use fire ants or any other insect to clean a carcus, you'll need to put some kind of barrier to keep scavengers from tearing it up. If the animal is small enough to fit in a live trap cage, just set that over the ant mound or, bigger, you could make your own cage out of bull panel wire.

You'd think the fire ants would keep the scavengers away, but some of the scavengers just consider the ants as extra protein. (Tougher than me!)

May 2, 2005, 10:30 PM
I've used fire ants for hog heads a few times before. It will clean it off really well, yet the only problem is that half the time a coyote will carry it off.
Maybe if you where to put a T-post in a big mound and than put the head on top of it, they could get up there and eat on it, while keeping the coyotes taking it (just don't let the neighbors see you putting a bunch of them up all over your yard. It may make them a little suspicious)

Raymond Losli
May 2, 2005, 10:44 PM
I agree with / smokey Joe on those Carnivores beetles
I have seen the work of those, Dermestid Beetles. When they are done. the end product like a skull is Shiny Clean and ready to set on your Book Shelf.
When we were kids in the summer time we used to hang Hides on the outside barn wall -flesh side facing out.
The Yellow Jackets would pick and chew the hide clean. Hundereds @ a time none stop for days till not a speck of flesh left when there done.

Our amazing hungry Insect friends...... :barf:

May 3, 2005, 11:16 AM
Thanks for the replies.I t looks like I may still try the fire ant route but I'll count on the Beatles ;) to get the job done.

Al Thompson
May 3, 2005, 12:36 PM
Too slow for me but...

Get a bucket big enough for the head. Put head on mound. Cover head with upside down bucket. Put cinder block on top of bucket to keep critters out.


May 3, 2005, 10:03 PM
Ants tend to leave some hair and sinew. There is a deer head that Littlest Meek has left outside for 2 years and it still has traces of hair around the horns.