Museum, University of Nebraska State


Date of this Version



Published in Museum Notes (August 2002) No. 112: 4 p.


Jewel Scarabs are a group of about 100 species of some of the most spectacular insects that you'll ever see! Most are various shades of iridescent green, but others are spectacular, metallic "jewels" of silver, gold, red, pink, purple, or blue. They are beetles of the family Scarabaeidae, in the subfamily Rutelinae. This subfamily is known by the common name "Shining Leaf Chafers" because many are shiny, colorful beetles that feed on leaves as adults. As a specialist in Jewel Scarabs of the genus Chrysina, I naturally consider these to be among the finest and most fascinating of insects, but maybe I'm a bit biased!

Jewel Scarabs are found only in the New World, mainly in the mountains of Mexico and Central America. Four species, including the very fancy Chrysina gloriosa which has silver and green striped wing covers (elytra), occur in the mountains of western Texas, New Mexico and Arizona. Only a couple species are known from the Andes Mountains of northwestern South America. Many species are found in the incredibly beautiful and diverse cloud forests of Central America. It's a real treat to study Jewel Scarabs (or anything else) that live in these cloud forests because of the endless variety of strange, wonderful, and very colorful animals and plants that surround you.