Scarab beetles or Scarabs belong to Scarabaeidae family which houses over 30,000 species of beetles around the globe. However, the classification is not stable based on different competing theories because new theories are presented now and then. Many of the species of common scarab bugs mentioned in this article might not be recognized by this family as the species get the lower rank of subfamily or they might be elevated to family rank. For instance, some of the families have been removed including Bolboceratidae, Ochodaeidae, Glaphyridae, Geotrupidae, Pleocomidae and Glaresidae. Some of the well-known beetles currently defined consist of Hercules beetles, June beetles, dung beetles, rose chafers, Goliath beetles, and enormous rhinoceros beetles.
Table of Contents
- 1. Appearance & Size
- 2. Food & Diet
- 3. Reproduction
- 4. Five Interesting Scarab Beetle Facts
- 5. Scarab Beetle: the Mythology of Ancient Egypt
- 6. Benefits and Uses
- 7. Do Scarab Beetles Bite Human?
- 8. How to Get Rid of Scarab Beetles
- 9. Damages Caused by Scarab Beetles
- 10. Scarab Beetles Removal Solutions
- 11. Conclusion
1. Appearance & Size
Scarab beetles are oval shaped, and stout-bodied beetles and have bright metallic colors. These beetles vary in length from 1.5 millimeters to 160 millimeters and can weigh up to 100 grams. Scarabs are characterized by their distinct-clubbed antennae which are made up of plates which are known as lamellae. These lamellae can be fanned out or compressed to sense different odors. Most of these beetles are monotone and are found in brown or black colors. The tropical Scarabs bear bright colors and different patterns. Some of the species have unnatural sheen just as that of a metal and some species are iridescent as well.
2. Food & Diet
Scarab beetles are omnivorous bugs, and the diet patterns vary from one species to another. Most of the Scarab beetles like to scavenge and recycle carrion, dung or decaying materials of plants. On the other hand, the Japanese beetles devastate the crops and are pure agricultural pests. Some of these beetles also eat fruits, insects, and fungi. There are some varieties of these beetles that live on slime left by the snails. Dung beetles consume the dung of all grazing animals. The dung beetle makes dung balls and carries them to large distances using their hind legs. These perfectly spherical dung balls are then buried in a place and females lay their eggs on it. The grubs grow in these balls to become a young Scarab beetle by feeding on the waste.
These beetles reproduce sexually and usually; there is not much courtship. The whole process begins when a female joins a male while creating a nest. Within a nest, both beetles create many underground chambers, however; the female does most of the construction. The purpose of the male is to get all the provisions for his female. The eggs are almost one-third the size of the beetle in length. Like all other beetles, Scarabs larvae also go through a complete scarab metamorphosis to become adult beetles. The C-shaped larvae of Scarab beetles are known as grubs and are of white or pale yellow color, and they feed on the food that is available in the nest. Most of the adult Scarabs are nocturnal, though many leaf chafers and flower chafers are also found active in the day time. The grubs spend most of their time under the debris or underground so that they are not exposed to the sunlight. Scarab populations have been very stable around the globe because they are found in different habitats and can consume decaying organic matter.
4. Five Interesting Scarab Beetle Facts
- Australia imports Scarab beetles for the purpose of cleaning up the dung from different cattle farms.
- In ancient Rome, rings were made of Scarab beetles and were considered to be military symbols.
- Ancient Egyptians carved the body of these beetles and used it as seals for various documentation purposes.
- The dung beetle was considered to an incarnation of Khepri, the sun god and was worshiped by ancient Egyptians.
- King Tut’s jewelry was based on these Egyptian sacred scarabs and tourists by these Scarabs to pay homage to this humble little creature.
5. Scarab Beetle: the Mythology of Ancient Egypt
Dung beetles were revered as sacred in Ancient Egypt. To them, these beetles were the symbols of hope and restoration of life. They have been part of many Egyptian rituals.
The ancient Egyptians used different designs of the Scarab beetle in different ways. They created seals in the shape of these beetles for stamping different documents. Artisans used the same ancient Egyptians Scarab design for the jewelry and used ancient Egyptian precious gems in those designs as well. This same design was also used as lucky charms to keep the evil away. These good luck charms were given as gifts too. In addition to this, the ancient Egyptian amulets of scarabs were also placed on the hearts of the deceased who were mummified. Ram headed scarab was also very common.
Rich colors were used for the ancient Egyptians amulets, and those colors defined different meanings. The red color symbolized Ra and blue were used for the Nile River. The green color was used to represent growth and some hints of yellow symbolized sun and the desert. It was believed that Khepri pushes the sun in the sky and similar to this, a dung beetle also pushes its dung ball. In a variety of artifacts, these beetles have been depicted to push along the sun in the sky. Moreover, in the final judgment, these amulets were meant to be weighed against the feather of truth. These sacred scarabs were inscribed with various spells from the Book of Dead.
6. Benefits and Uses
They have a crucial role to play in agriculture. They contribute heavily in rapid recycling of decaying organic matter. Because of a dung beetles important role in the disposal of disease-breeding wastes from one place to another, they play an essential part in disease control and development of pests among the livestock. Many countries especially the likes of Australia, actually import dung beetles for the purpose of controlling animal waste. The beetle is used to control the release of nitrous oxide gas from the agriculture. The dried dung beetle is used in medicine in China and is considered to be a cure of 10 diseases in that country. In Northeastern Thailand, the locals love to consume dung beetle too.
7. Do Scarab Beetles Bite Human?
In the movie ‘The Mummy,’ it is depicted that Scarab beetles attack and devour humans. They crawl under their skins and eat their flesh out from the inside. However, in reality, they will face some tough time penetrating into human skin. Most of the Scarabs feed on fruits, insects and waste material from animals and plants. They do not eat flesh because they prefer eating wastes.
8. How to Get Rid of Scarab Beetles
Some of the members of scarab beetle family are genuine pests. They have the tendency to destroy vegetations, trees, and gardens. Different species prefer to eat the sap of trees as well as fruits of different plants plus decaying vegetation as well.
9. Damages Caused by Scarab Beetles
Because these beetles feed on the decomposing matter of plants, their larvae can be found underground where the roots of the plants are. The larvae can be grass root feeders, as well as tree root feeders and compost feeders. These can be found in gardens and lawns and feed of the plants thus, cause lawn damage.
10. Scarab Beetles Removal Solutions
Some solutions can be used to remove these pests from the gardens and lawns. These beetles tend to find decaying organic matter and lay eggs around so that the young can feed upon it and grow. Therefore, it is important to remove the food source for these pests. Get rid of any decaying organic matter and also keep the place and clear from any debris.
- Chemical Controls
You can spray insecticide with dimethoate in your lawns as well as the trunks of trees when you spot any of these larvae. Make sure that you spray the insecticide before the sunset so that egg-laying process can be prevented.
- Mechanical controls
You can also lay light traps around your garden. With these light traps, the beetles are attracted, and they push the roller device to climb in. The device then locks up and flips over along with the insect inside. However, you may have to use some these devices if the beetle has infested you area in large numbers.
- Natural predators
Natural predators of Scarab beetles are Magpies, and if they are introduced in the infested area, then they can eat many grubs in no time.
- Garden and Tree Maintenance
Make sure that you turn your soil over regularly so that the grubs can be exposed to the picking birds and other insect eaters. Keeping the soil moist and fresh will keep the beetles and their grubs away. At times you can also wash the plants with soap to keep these beetles away.
Scarab beetles have different varieties, and they have been used for a variety of purposes throughout the human history. In the ancient times, these bugs were sacredly symbolized and were used in a different manner. Because of their beautiful colors and patterns, they are very popular among people. Another reason for their popularity is due to movies like The Mummy and the games like Tumblebugs. Different types of Scarabs are useful for humans because they can control the livestock diseases. Many countries import Scarabs because of their usefulness. However, some types of Scarabs are also very harmful pests and destroy vegetation.