Ham Beetle

By: Kate and Marti

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Basic Characteristics

Species: Rufipes

Size: 3.5-7 mm (adult size)

Shape: Straight sided, surface has indentations called punctures


  • Shiny, metallic green/black with red legs and antennae.
  • Light colored base of shoulders
  • Larvae has creamy color body with violet/grey upper surface


  • Feed on infesting larvae of blow flies, dermestidae, and piophilidae
  • Adults are surface feeders, larvae bore into dry meat
  • Red leg ham beetle attack bones, cheese, meats, guano, bone meal, etc.

Geographic Location

  • Throughout North America
  • Summers in the North
  • Other seasons in the South
  • Preferred Temperature: 86-93.2 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Can survive outdoors but prefers indoor

Life Cycle

  • Complete Metamorphisis
  • Eggs laid on the food material (hatch in 4-5 days)
  • Larvae goes through 3-4 instars (21 days)
  • In the last instar spins, a cacoon forms in which pupation occurs (20 days)
  • takes 6 weeks or longer depending on conditions
  • Under optimum conditions, the rate of population increase is 25 times per month.

Time Appearing on the Body

  • Arrives late on the body- around 3-6 months after death
  • This is the stage of Dry Decay
  • They feed on the dry skin and tendons of the body

Court Case

The Shakira Johnson Case:

  • Shakira Johnson, an 11 year old girl from Cleveland, was murdered by a suspected man.
  • Forensic entomologists proved that the suspected man was in prison at the time of Shakira's death.
  • Ham beetles and cheese-skipper flies, both late arrivers, helped provide time of death information.


James F. McCarty, The Plain Dealer. "New Evidence in Shakira Johnson Case." N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

"Necrobia Rufipes." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

"Offering You Only The Best!" Richard M Heagy Foods -Deli Meats, Cheeses, Dairy & Frozen Foods. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2015.

"Red-legged Ham Beetle (Necrobia Rufipes)." Red-legged Ham Beetle (Necrobia Rufipes). N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.

"Species Necrobia Rufipes - Red-legged Ham Beetle." Species Necrobia Rufipes. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Apr. 2015.