Subject: Scarab Victorian Brooch
January 15, 2013 5:09 pm
This brooch had four beetles on it, but one fell off. If you Google, ”green scarab beetle,” lots of pictures of this species come up for sale called, ”antique Victorian brooch.” One website, http://wanderinweeta.blogspot.com/2010/07/ancient-mystery-beetle.html, has the best pictures I have seen where one commenter says it’s not a scarab, but rather, a tortoise beetle (Chrysomelidae). I am interested in your opinion, and whether or not you know if a replacement to fix my brooch is possible.
Signature: Jerry Burke
We agree 100% that these are not Scarab Beetles, but rather, that they are Leaf Beetles in the family Chrysomelidae, possibly Tortoise Beetles in the tribe Cassidini. Here are some examples of North American species from BugGuide. We have never seen this particular species, but we did find other examples online of Victorian jewelry made with these beetles which are incorrectly being called Scarabs, as well as some modern jewelry by Lito Karakostanoglou. We will continue to research this matter.
After finding numerous examples of Victorian Jewelry made with these Leaf Beetles incorrectly identified as being Scarab Beetles, we finally found the Mid-19th Century Jewelry website with this image correctly identified as being earings made of Tortoise Beetles. The Evolution website has a pair of earrings with the species identified as Desmonota variolosa with this information: “Tortoise Beetle Earrings – Desmonota variolosa The tortoise beetle is a member of the leaf beetle subfamily. These tortoise beetles have been mounted on a pair of sterling silver earrings. Their beautiful green sheen is sure to attract attention and open the wearer up to a host of compliments.” You might want to consider ordering a pair of earrings from Evolution and having a jeweler replace the missing Tortoise Beetle in your brooch. According to Encyclopedia Britannica: “The pits and grooves covering the South American leaf beetle Desmonota variolosa give it an iridescent green colour with depth resembling that of an emerald.” There is a nice image of these beetles in the Hunterian Museum & Art Gallery Collections website. We have given up hunting for a photo online of a living Desmonota variolosa, but we just thought of a new search idea.
We did find a similar looking red Tortoise Beetle from Costa Rica on the Nature Closeups website that is identified as being in the genus Spaethiella. We also found a gorgeous blue and red Tortoise Beetle from the Amazon on Green Tracks News identified as being in the genus Eugenysa. Alas, we could not find any images of living Desmonota variolosa. If any of our readers get lucky enough to find a photo of a living specimen of Desmonota variolosa, please comment on this posting.