Scarab beetle

A scarab beetle near a trail in Colorado National Monument
A scarab beetle near a trail in Colorado National Monument

Scarab beetles are one of the most misunderstood insect families (Scarabaeidae).  They show up in horror movies involved with mummies.  Scarabs are thought of as dung beetles (quite rightly actually).  They’re thought of living in far off and exotic locations but in fact, there are plenty of them right in the U.S.A.  I’ve also seen them in Ecuador.  Really, they’re usually beautiful little beetles and impressive in their own way.

In Egyptian mythology it’s a scarab beetle that rolls the sun across the sky, which makes a little sense if you’ve ever seen one pushing a perfectly round ball of dung across the desert.

A scarab at the lodge, Reserva Las Tangaras, near Mindo, Ecuador
A scarab at the lodge, Reserva Las Tangaras, near Mindo, Ecuador

Basically, these guys however gross their jobs may seem to us are nature’s clean-up crew.  Imagine all the dung created in the world, especially in places like the tropical rainforest.  Imagine none of that dug ever being picked up; pretty disgusting, right?  Scarab beetles do the dirty work that everyone needs done but no one needs to do.  I would also like to compare the scarabs to the even more hated cockroaches.  People seem to think roaches are carriers of disease, disgusting harbingers of filth but in reality they’re much more like scarabs.  Cockroaches actually clean up a lot of the messes we don’t even know we’ve made, picking up crumbs and potentially curtailing the formation of molds which can actually make you sick.  So the next time you see a roach or a scarab or any of the numerous creatures recycling waste, take time to observe them carefully and see how truly beautiful they are.

Giant Cockroach in Ecuador
Giant Cockroach in Ecuador
The Ecuadorian scarab again
The Ecuadorian scarab again

1 Comment

  1. I don’t have many pet cockroaches, in fact, none, that I know of. Scarabs are somewhat mystical, primarily because of the legends associated with them. As for the dung collectors, well, we still need to have some untouched feces, else how would I have ever acquired my precious piece of fecalite? It’s colorful, & some poor cockroach couldn’t budge this piece of shit.
    BTW, would you please send me your email address, as I can’t find it. If you don’t have mine, send it through your dad.


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