Beatle-dazzling: Live gem-covered beetles worn as jewelry (VIDEO)
The bugs are typically decorated with gemstones and chains and sell for US $14 - $35 on average.
"It requires work because the artisan has to be careful of detail since it needs a special resin that doesn´t hurt its shell, a resin that leaks a gel that then becomes solid,” says the store owner, Jose Varguez.
The blinged out insects have been gaining popularity since the 1980s. However, this living breathing jewelry tradition goes back centuries to Mayan times when they decorated wingless beetles. Maquech in Mayan means "one that doesn't eat," since the insect lives off a fungus that comes from Chacah wood.
The retailer of the glamorous creepy crawlies claims they “last up to one year and a half, if taken good care of, or even up to 3 years."
In 2010, an American woman stumped US Customs after declaring her blue and gold insect brooch at the Mexican border. While the beetle was confiscated temporarily for inspection, because the woman had declared it she was not penalized. The incident, however, sparked uproar among animal rights organizations such as 'People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals', who condemned the trade.