Insects in ancient (Pharaonic) Egypt: a review of fauna, their mythological and religious significance and associated diseases

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Entomology, Faculty of Science, Ain Shams University, Abbassia, Cairo

2 Research Institute of Medical Entomology, The General Organization for Institutes and Teaching Hospitals, Ministry of Health, Dokki, Giza, Egypt.


Based on the available and scattered reports, this article reviews the insects that were known to ancient Egyptians (butterflies and moths, honey bee, locust, praying mantis, beetles, ants, flies, mosquitoes, bed-bugs, fleas and head lice). The mythological and religious significance and associated diseases (malaria, filariasis, leishmaniasis and plague) of such insects were also included. The present status of the medically important insects and their borne diseases in modern Egypt were discussed. In conclusion, in spite of the large variety of insects occurring in Egypt at present, only few have been represented and named in ancient Egypt.