Blue Death Feigning Beetles Enclosure

Tired Teacher Vibes

May 14, 2023
Been wanting to set up some kind of enclosure for my classroom, I used to keep aquariums but don't feel comfortable having a tank full of water in a crowded classroom, so I've been looking at bioactive enclosures as a possible option.

Thought blue death feigning beetles would be great since the requirements for keeping them seem easy in a classroom; not needing/wanting humidity and not being sensitive to heat (b/c of summer heat here). I teach life science (7th grade) and thought something bioactive would be a great way to show the students a culmination of what they'd be learning/working on. My bio teacher from high school had us try to build one for a class project (I used weeds from the yard, worms, and spiders in a plastic bin. Did just fine with some water.).

I want to create some kind of bioactive enclosure for these beetles. Nothing too crazy, just a couple of plants and maybe some other insects. I was hoping to get some feedback before I got out and buy anything. Don't wanna accidently kill anything. Also open to suggestions for other insects/enclosures if anyone knows of something that might work well if this seems impossible.

Bare Minimum Setup:
-Not actually bioactive.
-Just a fast drying substrate with lots of wood/bark, leaf litter, and dried mosses.
-Like a 5 gallon tank with just the beetles.
-(I know they're an arid/desert species but I think it'd look cooler this way.)

Wanted Setup:
-Fast drying substrate (at top), maybe a little more moisture retentive towards the bottom.
-Deeper on one side and shallow on another.
-Probably 10-15 gallons.
-Plenty of wood, bark, and leaf litter.
-Maybe a wet spot? Like back corner? Put a plant there in a small terracotta pot so water slowly seeps into the soil?
-Drought tolerant plants. Sedum? Spider Plants? Creeping Fig? Dwarf zz? Other succulents/cacti? Possibly kept in pots to keep the entire substrate from getting wet when watering.
-BDF Beetles.
-Mealworms? (If they become beetles, they're darklings and should be fine right?) I like the way they look as larva and they're cheap.
-Isopods & springtails? (Just for biodiversity, and only if there's a sufficient wet spot)
-Another insect of some sort?? (not a scorpion, principal vetoed it.) A slug/snail? Small spider? Crickets (would they eat the beetles when molting?)? (Probably not velvet ants because of their sting)

Other info: My classroom is temperature controlled most of the year, it's never to cold but can get hot because the a/c isn't very strong. I have LARGE windows and the tank would sit near/in front of the window for natural lighting and warmth. I do have LEDs and a heating mat if necessary (I use them to grow plants in the classroom during winter).

Again, totally open for other suggestions if there are way better options. Want some biodiversity. No fish tanks. Would prefer the insects to either reproduce or last awhile so I don't have to replenish frequently. Has to be kind hardy since it's a classroom and not a setup at home.


Old Timer
Oct 13, 2011
I think a scorpion would slowly eat the bugs off anyways plus it’s not an insect . Also, I can’t understand why the principal was afraid of scorpions?
I’m not sure which species go well with the Beatles, hopefully someone will chime in.