Humans have always had to deal with insect pests. However, many past cultures regarded some insect species as natural works of beauty that only a loving god could create. This may sound like an exaggeration, but insect imagery has been heavily associated with religion, art, literature, music and even dance. In today’s world, people do not seem too concerned with insects unless they are causing problems of some sort, but insects have been represented positively in many works of art ranging from early cave paintings to Renaissance masterpieces, and even modern graphic novels.

The Chinese hold butterflies in high regard, and butterfly imagery has been a major component in several of the most famous works of Chinese art. For the Chinese, butterflies symbolize pleasant feelings of joy. In both Asian and western artworks, bees and butterflies are used to symbolize love and affection. For example, the famous 16th century painting by Lucas Cranach called “Venus and Cupid” uses bees and butterflies as personifications of love. Of course, insects were not always used by artists to represent love and joy, as some unpleasant insects were used to personify the darker sides of human nature. Early Renaissance artists often included flies in their paintings in order to illustrate the omnipresence of evil.

Insects are also featured prominently in some modern works of art. Modern artist, Charles Harper, often includes insect imagery in graphic novels, and MC Escher also made use of various insects for expressing certain ideas and emotions. The surrealist painter, Salvador Dali, often included images of ants and flies in his bizarre art pieces. In some cases, insects are even made into bodily ornaments. For example, in some parts of Africa and South America, people create pins and brooches out of both living and dead beetles. The beatles are valued for their inherent beauty, as some beetle species are uniquely colorful. The colorful wings of butterflies and some moth species are also made into opulent pieces of jewelry.

Have you ever found a piece of jewelry that was crafted from insect parts?