Museum, University of Nebraska State


Date of this Version

November 2006


Published in Coleopterists Society Monograph Number 5:85–101. 2006. Copyright © 2006 by Brett C. Ratcliffe. Used by permission.


The use of scarab beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae) by primarily pre- and non-industrial peoples throughout the world is reviewed. These uses consist of (1) religion and folklore, (2) folk medicine, (3) food, and (4) regalia and body ornamentation. The use of scarabs in religion or cosmology, once widespread in ancient Egypt, exists only rarely today in other cultures. Scarabs have a minor role in folk medicine today although they may have been more important in the past. The predominant utilization of these beetles today, and probably in the past as well, is as food with emphasis on the larval stage. Lastly, particularly large or brightly colored scarabs (or their parts) are used (mostly in the New World) to adorn the body or as regalia.

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