Throughout history, humans have had diverse interactions with and perceptions of beetles. Coccinellid beetles were once perceived to have a close association with the Virgin Mary, hence their common name "ladybugs." Ancient Egyptians recognized dung beetles (Scarabaeidae) as a symbol of Ra, the sun god, because of parallels between the beetles' behavior and cosmic activities credited to the deity. Much as the scarabs rolled dung balls across the desert, Ra was thought to guide the sun across the sky each day. The symbolism of sacred scarabs has continued until today, as scarab images are still incorporated into jewelry, signifying good luck to the buyer or wearer.
The mystery and aesthetic beauty of beetles has been captured in paintings, sculptures, dances, poems, songs, and other art forms. Beetles have been used by many cultures for decoration. The brilliant metallic elytra of Buprestidae serve as natural sequins on textiles, and as biological gems in jewelry. In some cultures, beetle horns are included in jewelry because they are thought to increase sexual potency.
Live stag beetles (Lucanidae) are prized as pets in Japan, where a considerable amount of study has been given to their care in captivity. In Thailand the practice of "fighting" male
FIGURE 51 Five Australian beetles and a moth forming part of a mimicry ring: (A) Metriorrhynchus rhipidius (Lycidae), (B) Eroschema poweri (Cerambycidae), (C) Tmesidera rufipennis (Meloidae), (D) Rhinotia haemoptera (Belidae), (E) Stigmodera nasuta (Buprestidae), (F) Snellenia lineata (Lepidoptera: Oecophoridae). (Images provided by copyright holder, CSIRO Entomology, Canberra, ACT, Australia.)
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