The Scientific Indian

Ponvandu: A Peacock among the insects

i-edc334acd5cab1a0874174ce8bf090a9-Shiny_Jewel_Beetle-New.JPG The little boy went to the corner of the hut and fished out a matchbox from his school bag. He had not told anyone about his secret pet: A Ponvandu*. The colorful insect emerged out of the matchbox when he slid the lid off; its body iridescent as it reflected the morning sunlight in myriad colors in a thousand angles. A bonsai version of an impossible aurora borealis. The wings covered a heavy body. It would have to think twice before flying. A peacock among the insects. The wings resembled – indeed more than just resembled – the shields of an ancient warrior. The wings defended the ponvandu; they attracted mates; they dazzled in the expressions of their sexuality. It bore into trees and lived on a diet of dead wood. The ponvandu was almost 1 1/2 inches long – the cratered head and wings separated by a precipitous wedge that looked sinister. The ponvandu would snap its head against the edge of the wings if anything tried crawling into the wedge – a survival instinct to protect the exposed soft body underneath. The boy prodded the ponvandu making it snap its neck. And giggled.

*Ponvandu – Tamil name for Jewel Beetle.


  1. #1 Anand
    February 16, 2007

    And I can only think of the radio jingle for the detergent!

  2. #2 Natti
    February 17, 2007

    Ponvandu, Ponvandu kaetu paarunga.

    Dont know if you have heard that popular ad jingle….

    Natarajan Sridharan

  3. #3 Selva
    February 17, 2007

    I remember the jingle. When I searched for ponvandu in google, I was mildly dismayed to get all soap and no science. Perhaps, we could persuade google that there’s more to ponvandu than detergents by linking to this post elsewhere.

  4. #4 Natarajan
    February 18, 2007

    Looks like it is already happening in Google.
    Your blog is now the second link.
    Just work a little more on site visits and we will get there.

  5. #5 Ezhilenthi
    January 27, 2009

    Oh..! Those days..! Insearch of Ponvandu all along the jungle..! So valuable and unforgettable days..!
    Capturing Ponvandu in risky braches, hitting the leaves, where it is hanging to make it fall down..!
    So owesome..!
    Whenever I recall those days my heart is beating so curiously to get back those days again..!
    Its colourful eggs..!jumping like rubberball! Wow..!!

  6. #6 Rakesh
    February 6, 2009

    Most of the time we will be stuck with the “Kodukapilli” aka “Kona pulianga” tree. True hunters instincts were unleashed those days. The eggs and the trade with these beetles. Man those days were awesome. :):):)

  7. #7 Arjun Rajendran
    July 19, 2009

    Hey, your wonderful article unwittingly helped me in finishing my poem about this superb insect. I would like to share it with you if you are interested.



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