Living Beetle Brooch: Cool Bling or a Cruel Thing?

living beetle brooch photo
This jewel-encrusted beetle makes even Ringo Starr seem drab. Photo via The Guardian

Looking for a fashion statement that will tell the world that you have zero respect for animals? Try wearing a living beetle, encrusted with jewels, pinned to your shirt. Well, that's what one woman did. Her unusually cruel accessory stumped US Custom authorities in Texas when she declared the living insect at Mexico border. Officers seized the insect, but the woman received no penalty because she acted within the law. Animal rights groups, on the other hand, see the bedazzled beetle brooch as nothing short of animal cruelty.According to a report from The Monitor, the beetle was decorated with blue plastic or glass crystal sequins on top of a gold facade and was attached to her sweater by a chain and safety pin. The wearer might have had the chance to keep her 'brooch' had she submitted the proper paperwork as she entered the US near Brownsville, but Custom agents followed protocol for undocumented animals.

From the official account:

CBP officers seized the decorative clothing accessory and sent the live beetle to the Plant Inspection Station at Los Indios International Bridge for further identification. Because the traveler declared the insect no monetary civil penalty was issued. Moving live plant pests in any form, including pets, imported into or exported from the United States must be declared...

As the story of the living brooch spread through the local press, animal rights groups chimed in with their disapproval. It is not so often that animal mistreatment is so intertwined with vanity--even if the creature harmed is thought to be just a lowly insect.

Jaime Zalac of PETA:

Beetles may not be as cute and cuddly as puppies and kittens, but they have the same capacity to feel pain and suffer. It's ironic. We spend hours each week helping kind people find humane ways to relocate lost insects such as ants, bees and roaches that wander into their homes. People feel so good about not hurting them, while this woman paid someone to mutilate them.

Beetles have long been a popular shape for jewelry, and The Guardian reports that the practice of wearing living beetles is not entirely uncommon in Mexico, adding that even Jackie Kennedy may have been gifted a living brooch as first lady.

But, as everybody knows, living beetle brooches went out of fashion years ago--you know, like parachute pants and bear-traps.

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