X

Living Jewelry – The Shiny Cocoons of This Exotic Butterfly Look Like Gold Jewels

Butterfly pupae are easy targets for predators in search of an easy protein-rich meal, and one would think that the flashier the cocoon, the higher the chances of being spotted and eaten , but the Mechanitis polymnia, aka the orange-spotted tiger clearwing and its shiny, gold-like pods are proof that the opposite is true.

The orange-spotted tiger clearwing butterfly lives in the jungles of Central and South America, from Mexico all the way to the Amazon rain-forests. It’s a colorful little thing, with a wingspan of 65 to 75 millimeters, but it’s not exactly the most eye-catching of butterflies. Its pupae however are pure gold, literally. Well, not really literally, but they look just like elaborate gold jewelry hanging on the back of plant leaves, and even on the walls of houses in rural areas. But unlike actual gold jewels, these shiny, metallic-looking chrysalises are not meant to draw attention, but distract predators and even discourage them from getting to close. It’s a natural defense mechanism, and a very effective one at that.

Read More »

Maquech Beetles – Mexico’s Controversial Living Breathing Jewelry

The Maquech Beetle can make any nature lover or animal rights activist scream in horror. Entomophobics (creepy-crawly-haters) would probably run as far away as possible from this kind of jewelry, and for good reason, as every Maquech is actually a live bejeweled insect. As hard as it may be to even conceive wearing bugs as accessories, they are something of a fashion statement in Mexico.

I kid you not, just watching a video of the Maquech brooch is giving me the jitters. I don’t get how people can stand it on their bodies, but jewelry enthusiasts in Mexico have been flocking at stores to buy these ‘pet-cessories’ since the 1980s. The brooch is actually a part of a centuries-old Mayan tradition of decorating wingless beetles from the Yucatan Peninsula. Gemstones and gold are glued on the beetle’s body which sounds like a cruel process which has been denounced by animal activists in the past. The insects themselves are pretty harmless and docile, quite perfect to play the part of living jewelry. Each one has a decorative safety pin attached to it with a 2-inch-long chain leash. When pinned to clothing, the beetles can wander around, but can never get away.

Read More »