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Insect Tattoo Designs: Tiny Creatures, Enormous Complexity


Insects have long been symbolic creatures in cultures all over the world and throughout time.  Insects we typically fear or are disgusted by, like scorpions, flies, and spiders, often have a very positive meaning.


Perhaps owing to the enormous trend of butterfly tattoos, insect tattoos are gaining favor. Insects have long been symbolic creatures in cultures all over the world and throughout time. Insects we typically fear or are disgusted by, like scorpions, flies, and spiders, often have a very positive meaning. Some people get tattoos of insects to illustrate their love of a specific species, for example someone might choose a butterfly tattoo design simply because they find them pretty while someone else might choose a spider design because they studied spiders and find them fascinating. Others, though, choose to get insect tattoos because the creature has a specific symbolic meaning that they feel connected with or aspire to.

Ants are common around the world and are usually associated with hard work and great change, even though they are tiny and diminutive. The ant works for the betterment of society without regard to his own welfare or prosperity. Ants perform a specific task and their do their duty with unstoppable commitment and faithfulness. Although most ants are regarded as harmless, some species are incredibly aggressive and can even kill humans or other large animals.

Beetles are not common tattoo symbols, but beetles were incredibly important in Egyptian culture. The dung beetle or scarab beetle was associated with gods and divinity. Beetles often have shiny shells or wings that can reflect all the colors of the rainbow and are actually quite beautiful. Beetles are generally scavengers who aid humanity rather than harm it.

Scorpions are difficult to kill and deliver painful stings, sometimes capable of killing a human. Different varieties of scorpions are found in a variety of locations, from perfectly harmless to deadly, but scorpions most often symbolize protection, warning, retaliation, or aggression. However, sometimes scorpions also represent mystery, energy, health, wisdom, or logic.  Scorpions, above all else, are tough and resilient, fighting to the death.

Butterflies, the ever popular tattoo symbol, are renowned worldwide for their beauty and ability to change. They are delicate creatures and are typically considered to represent females. Sometimes, though, the butterfly is thought to represent a deceased soul fluttering towards the heavens. This can make them popular motifs for memorial tattoos honoring those who have passed, particularly females.

Dragonflies rival the butterfly in beauty, but have more control over their flight and this makes them seem more graceful.  They, like the butterfly, have deep spiritual connotations.  Native American cultures believed that dragonflies brought messages from the gods to humans.  They are revered by most cultures and are found around the world.  Although small, they are some of the worlds oldest living creatures.

Grasshoppers and crickets are sometimes symbolic of nobility or noble thought, and sometimes symbols of luck and good fortune. Especially in Chinese cultures, grasshoppers and crickets are seen as good omens, rather than annoying pests. Many people are fascinated by the anatomy of the grasshopper as it is quite unusual.

Ladybugs are another insect often considered by many to be cute or pretty. They are relatively benign and small, with a bright and attractive design on their back. They are considered lucky, particularly if they are brightly red or have an interesting number of spots. And they are also beneficial to gardens, as they eat destructive and difficult to kill aphids which can destroy plants and flowers.

Moths are related to butterflies, but are chosen less often as tattoo designs because they are naturally less colorful and attractive. Men, however, seem more inclined to choose a moth tattoo than a butterfly design, as the moth symbol seems more masculine.

The praying mantis (or paying mantids in the plural) are intriguing in their apparently contradictory natures. In appearance, they appear as peaceful, noble insects in the act of prayer, but in reality they are stealthy and adept predators who move quickly and strike fiercely when the need arises. People drawn to the praying mantis tattoo design might fell they themselves are also peaceful until forced into action.

Spiders are another insect with a variety of species that can represent different things. Positively, spiders symbolize creativity, possibilities, and skill. Negatively, they can represent deviousness, manipulation, and lying because they lure other insects to their death.

As you can see, an insect tattoo can have a very different meaning depending on the specific insect in the design. Sometimes people choose to have an insect tattooed because they feel a connection to it, while others actually decide to get an insect tattooed in order to conquer their own fears and overcome their weaknesses. Insects are often tattooed in realistic detail, but fanciful and artistic representations of insects is not uncommon, particularly with certain types, like butterflies, dragonflies, and scorpions.


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