The Norman Transcript

Local news

January 19, 2010

VIDEO: Museum harnesses beetles to get bones inhumanly spotless

Watch Video

The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History has hired several hundred creepy crawlers to do its dirty work, harnessing these critters' otherwise pesky powers--eating dead flesh--for good.

Collections technician Larissa Busch, also known as the bug lady, reigns over the bug room, an offshoot of the museum with a separate ventilation system to avoid contamination.

Here, dead animals like raccoons and lizards--soaked in beef bouillon to tempt with flavor and tenderness--are transported in baggies to the room. The excess flesh then is washed way before the carcasses are dropped into large cases of larvae and adult hide beetles, which eat away the stray meat.

Streamlined as the integrative pest management system, the pests feed off the beef jerky textured meat, giving the bones a hefty cleaning, otherwise impossible for human hands and tools, said Linda Coldwell, public relations and marketing officer.

Coldwell admitted it sounded gross, but the eco-friendly and low maintenance process--aside from the beetles' picky table manners--doesn't damage the bones.

"They're lazy; they don't like to work through the skin," Busch said of the hardened lizard heads and the less meaty raccoon feet, which filled the room with a stench as she cleaned off the excess flesh in the sink.

"Phew, that's stinky," Coldwell said.

Bush then pulled out the next dinner course: Dead bats that took a beating from wind turbines.

"These aren't that pretty," she said.

But within the museum's love for its leggy friends, hides a sinister side, darkened by the 350 sticky traps hidden in every room of the museum to prevent a critter infestation.

"There's no way to make it insect proof. The idea is to catch them before it becomes a big problem," Busch said. "Because once they get into the collection, it's like an open buffet."

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local news
  • Bicycle Racks Five more bike racks installed downtown

    Public art was installed Thursday along east Main Street in historic downtown Norman. Five colorful art pieces aren’t just for looks. The musical notes, dream catcher, fork and spoon, scissortail flycatcher and a bent arrow also are bike ...

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Water Reclamation Wastewater upgrade under way

    Norman’s $63 million water reclamation facility upgrade is under way. Once known as a sewer plant, the facility’s moniker reflects the current trend in water reuse and treatment that’s crossing the United States....

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Sooners on Saturday

    Meet the Sooners Day will be Saturday at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The annual, free event kicks off preseason practice and gives University of Oklahoma fans an opportunity to interact with their favorite players and ...

    August 1, 2014

  • Okla. City museum shows pigeons in positive light

    OKLAHOMA CITY — It wasn’t long after Lorrie Monteiro started her new gig as curator of the American Pigeon Museum that she started to wonder, “What have I done?” Monteiro had experience working at museums but knew almost nothing about the ...

    August 1, 2014

  • OKC man charged with rape

    After being brutally raped and kidnapped for four days, a woman escaped and called 911 last week, which led to charges against an Oklahoma City man. Zohaib Sahibzada Dastgir, 28, was charged with three counts of first-degree rape, two ...

    August 1, 2014

  • Parks officials set to fog for mosquitoes in Norman

    Norman parks and recreation officials will fog for mosquitoes Saturday night in northeast Norman....

    August 1, 2014

  • New natural gas plant coming to south central area

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A new plant projected to process 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day is coming to the Grady/Stephens county area....

    August 1, 2014

  • Motorists should watch for pedestrians

    With another school year approaching, the Norman Police Department wants motorists to be mindful of the increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic. During the month of August, the Norman Police Department will concentrate resources in the ...

    August 1, 2014

  • Crime briefs

    Man charged with rape A Norman man was charged with second-degree rape Thursday after a teen reported that she had been engaging in sexual activity with him. Stacy Lynn Thomas, 36, had numerous sexual encounters with the 15-year-old girl ...

    August 1, 2014

  • Police log

    Police responded to the following incidents Wednesday: · 1:36 a.m. burglary in progress, 3700 block of Barwick Drive · 9:54 a.m. larceny report, 500 block of South University Boulevard · 10:42 a.m. larceny report, 1400 ...

    August 1, 2014