Scarab Beetles (Scarabaeidae)

The Scarab Beetles are, perhaps, the most exalted of all the insects. Before delving into the history of worship surrounding the "Sacred Scarab", it should be noted that there are many kinds of Scarab Beetles - perhaps as many as 30,000 species. The name “Scarab Beetle” is an appellation that defines a group of beetles known scientifically as the family Scarabaeidae, a huge family which is further divided into many subfamilies. The four subfamilies that draw the most attention are Cetoniinae (The Flower Beetles), Dynastinae (The Rhinoceros Beetles), Rutelinae (The Shining Leaf-chafers), and the much-celebrated Scarabaeinae (The Dung Beetles). Of these different kinds of Scarab Beetles, it was the Dung Beetle which captured the imagination of the Egyptians. The Egyptians saw the universe in miniature within the life cycle of this coprophagous insect. This was because the Dung Beetle emerged from the earth like the rising sun, rolled its dung ball over the land just as Ra himself moved across the sky and then, as the sun set, so too did the beetle disappear back into the earth, only to rise again the following day. It became a powerful symbol to the Egyptians, venerated for thirty centuries as the symbol of rebirth and everlasting life. Over the course of those 3,000 years, scarab amulets without number (depicting many different species of Dung Beetles) were made from every material which could be worked. At the height of the ancient Egyptians’ civilization, their cultural influence spread throughout the Mediterranean and Near East, where beliefs were intermingled. Since the Egyptians believed all Scarab Beetles to be male, Roman soldiers adopted the scarab symbol as a totem of masculinity. Some of the earliest Christian sects also saw the cycle of rebirth in the Dung Beetle and adopted the scarab as their symbol. Later, as Christianity became an oppressive, hateful religion, the beetle was vilified and became a symbol of filth and degradation. During the Victorian era, when nature was the muse of many artisans in the Western world, the scarab became a widely admired icon again. While it is an icon still recognized today, few know the nature of the beetle depicted or understand the potent symbolism of immortality that surrounds it.

Flower Beetles (Cetoniinae)

The Cetoniinae is a group of beetles commonly known as Flower Beetles. Flower Beetles are one of the most sought-after groups of beetles. Not only do the beetles within Cetoniinae have some of the most striking color patterns of any group of beetles, they are also among the largest. For collectors, the Goliath Beetles (Goliathus spp.) of Africa are by far some of the most prized of all beetles, known not only for their size (11cm+) but also for the bold designs that make them such handsome insects. These patterns are made all the more striking by the rich, velvety sheen that marks many Flower Beetles. A dense mat of very short hairs, called “pubescence”, causes this texture. Despite their large size, Goliath Beetles are harmless. In fact, Flower Beetles get their name from the feeding habits of the adults. The Cetoniinae as a group are very fond of sweet liquids. This includes nectar, sap and the juice and flesh of soft, ripe fruits. In contrast, their larvae generally can be found in soil or other substrates where they feed on decomposing leaves.

111_3_thumb.jpgRose Chafer Beetle (Cetonia aurata)

25_1_thumb.jpgFlower Beetles (Chelorrhina polyphemus)

108_3_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Clerota bramha)

105_19_thumb.jpgFlower Beetles (Clerota spp.)

105_7_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Dicronorrhina sp.)

133_5_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Euchroea auripigmenta)

112_15_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Euchroea coelestis)

104_11_thumb.jpgFlower Beetles (Eudicella gralli)

172_3_thumb.jpgGoliath Beetle (Goliathus goliatus)

23_1_thumb.jpgGoliath Beetle (Goliathus orientalis)

112_5_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Heterorrhina spp.)

113_3_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Ingrisma sp.)

29_1.jpgFlower Beetle (Jumnos ruckeri)

110_17_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Protaetia spp.)

108_1_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Pseudochalcothea smaragdina)

109_11_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Rhomborrhina mellyi)

106_1_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Rhomborrhina resplendens)

106_15_thumb.jpgFlower Beetle (Stephanorrhina guttata)

106_7_thumb.jpgFlower Beetles (Torynorrhina flammea)


Rhinoceros Beetles (Dynastinae)

The Dynastinae are a group of beetles commonly referred to as “Rhinoceros Beetles”. Rhinoceros Beetles are so named because of the graceful horns that most members of this family bear. Some Rhinoceros Beetles reach gigantic proportions and have horns several centimeters in length. Some of these giant species have been given common names of their own, in particular: the Hercules Beetles (Dynastes), the Atlas Beetles (Chalcosoma) and the Elephant Beetles (Megasoma).  It is interesting to note that only male Rhinoceros Beetles posses these fearsome weapons, which they use to battle other males (in Southeast Asia, boys catch male Rhinoceros Beetles and force them to fight each other). In many parts of the world, they are farmed for sale to the insect trade.  Many of the giant species have long lifecycles, remaining as larvae for several years (they grow into very big grubs) while they feed on rotten wood. The adults prefer to feed on nectar, sap, and soft-skinned, sweet fruits.

26_5_thumb.jpgRhino Beetle (Augosoma centaurus)

24_10_thumb.jpgAtlas Beetle (Chalcosoma spp.)

30_2_thumb.jpgGrant’s Rhinoceros Beetle (Dynastes granti)

24_17_thumb.jpgGiant Hercules Beetle (Dynastes hercules)

27_1_thumb.jpg5-Horned Rhinoceros Beetle (Eupatorus gracilicornis)

28_4_thumb.jpgRhino Beetle (Golofa spp.)

23_17_thumb.jpgElephant Beetle (Megasoma actaeon)

23_14_thumb.jpgElephant Beetle (Megasoma elephas)

28_10_thumb.jpgRhino Beetle (Oryctes spp.)

31_7_thumb.jpgRhino Beetle (Trichogomphus martabani)

28_15_thumb.jpgRhino Beetle (Trypoxylus (=Allomyrina) dichotomus)

27_13_thumb.jpgRhino Beetle (Xylotrupes gideon)


Long-armed Chafers (Euchirinae)

25_16_thumb.jpgLong-Armed Chafer Beetles (Cheirotonus macleayi formosanus)

25_10_thumb.jpgLong-Armed Chafer Beetle (Euchirus longimanus)


Earth-boring Dung Beetles (Geotrupinae)

116_7_thumb.jpgEarth-Boring Dung Beetle (Enoplotrupes sharpi)


June Beetles and Chafers (Melolonthinae)

112_10_thumb.jpgCerulean Chafer Beetle (Hoplia caerulea)

172_9_thumb.jpgMay Beetle (Phyllophaga spp.)

172_7_thumb.jpgJune Beetle (Polyphylla fullo)


Shining Leaf Chafers (Rutelinae)

113_15_thumb.jpgShining Leaf Chafer Beetle (Chrysina (= Plusiotis) beyeri)

115_5_thumb.jpgShining Leaf Chafer Beetle (Chrysina (= Plusiotis) leconti)

115_9_thumb.jpg Jewel Scarab Beetle (Chrysina (= Plusiotis) resplendens)

113_7_thumb.jpgJewel Scarab Beetle (Chrysina (= Plusiotis) strasseni)

115_1_thumb.jpgShining Leaf Chafer Beetle (Chrysina (= Plusiotis) woodi)

115_17_thumb.jpgShining Leaf Chafer Beetles (Chrysophora chrysochlora)


Dung Beetles and Tumblebugs (Scarabaeinae)

31_9_thumb.jpgElephant Dung Beetles (Heliocopris dominus)

116_3_thumb.jpgDung Beetles (Phanaeus spp.)

189-6_thumb.jpgSacred Scarab Beetle (Scarabaeus sacer)