How Did The Ladybug Get Her Name?

@celticeagle (125417)
Boise, Idaho
October 14, 2021 1:58am CST
To begin with, ladybugs are not really bugs. They are beetles known as Ladybird beetles by entomologists. The ones we know here in North America are the seven-spotted ladybugs with shiny red and black bodies. They actually come in many colors and patterns but, the black and red ones are the ones we are most familiar with. Europeans farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help with ridding their cops of pests. Ladybugs came and cleared out the insects. The farmers named them "beetle of Our Lady." This name was eventually shortened to "ladybug". Image courtesy of Freeweekly.com
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13 responses
@owlwings (44223)
• Cambridge, England
14 Oct
It's only in North America (a minority of English speakers, incidentally) that the insect is called a 'ladybug', The rest of the English speaking world calls it a 'Ladybird' (even though it is not a bird). Other European names for it similarly associate it with the Virgin Mary. Although Mary is usually depicted wearing a blue cloak, the earliest mediaeval paintings show her wearing a red cloak and the bright scarlet beetle seems to have been named so because of this. The seven black spots are supposed to represent the seven joys and seven sorrows. I am not sure that I give any credence to a supposed plague of aphids, which would have been an infrequent event. The symbolism of the red and the number of spots seems much more likely to me. As to the epithet 'bird', nobody seems to have an answer! Various other languages describe it as a 'beetle', a 'cow' and a 'hen' and some make it belong to Our Lord, rather than Our Lady. It seems that only the Germans identify it correctly as a beetle (Marienkaefer). We had a favourite childhood rhyme for whenever we found one: Ladybird, Ladybird, fly away home! Your house is on fire and your children are gone.
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@LadyDuck (360883)
• Switzerland
14 Oct
I am glad you came in to confirm that ladybug is American and not English. The Italian name is coccinella and Italians think that if one fly on your arm it will bring you luck. It is one of the "lucky symbol" we place on the first of the year table (with the figurine of a chimney sweeper and a little pig). The 7 spots were said to symbolise Mary seven joys and seven sorrows.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
I've heard the rhyme before but never associated it with the ladybug. Thank you for your input.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
@LadyDuck .....Interesting.
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@LadyDuck (360883)
• Switzerland
14 Oct
May be UK farmers prayed the Virgin Mary and they called them "beetle of Our Lady". Only in English this beetle is called ladybug, we call them coccinella in Italy cocinelle in Franch. I searched and I found the real origin of the name, nothing to do with farmers praying, but interesting.
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@marlina (133395)
• Canada
14 Oct
I call them "coccinelles"
3 people like this
@LadyDuck (360883)
• Switzerland
14 Oct
@marlina We call them coccinelle in Italy, it makes sense as their Binomial name is Coccinella septempunctata (septempuncatata in Latin means with 7 spots).
3 people like this
@marlina (133395)
• Canada
14 Oct
@LadyDuck Thanks for the explanation
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@xFiacre (10245)
• Ireland
14 Oct
@celticeagle @ladyduck The Irish word for a ladybug (and also perhaps the Russian?) translates into English as ‘God’s little cow’.
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@LadyDuck (360883)
• Switzerland
14 Oct
This is a funny name, so you also do not use the name ladybug. I think that the British call them ladybird, ladybug is American only.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
@LadyDuck ......I see.
2 people like this
@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
How comical.
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@MALUSE (67286)
• Germany
14 Oct
Many years ago there was a plague of ladybugs in Brighton, a town on the south coast of England. They were virtually everywhere. Bus drivers had to use the windscreen wipers to clear the front windws so that they could see the street! They don't bite or sting human beings, but I can tell you that it is not a nice feeling to have them sitting all over your skin which isn't covered by clothing.
4 people like this
@LadyDuck (360883)
• Switzerland
14 Oct
I do not believe you call them ladybug in German and I think that also the name you give them has nothing to do with the Virgin Mary.
2 people like this
@MALUSE (67286)
• Germany
14 Oct
@LadyDuck Is this comment for me? I don't understand what you're telling me. Of course, it isn't called 'ladybug' in German. Germans speak German, not English. The German term is 'Marienkäfer'. 'Marien' is a form of 'Marie' which is 'Mary' in English. 'Käfer' means 'beetle', so it is exactly the same thing. --- (From the net): "'marienkäfer' etymology. From Marien- (cf. genitive forms: Mariens, Mariä, Marias, der Maria (i.e. of the Mary)), a bound morpheme derived from Maria (“ Maria, Mary ”) +? Käfer (“ beetle ”). Compare ladybird and ladybug, where “ lady ” refers to the ***Virgin Mary***.
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@LadyDuck (360883)
• Switzerland
14 Oct
@MALUSE I did not know how do you call them in German. At least one country where the name of Mary is associated to this little beetle. It is not in Italian and French.
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@BarBaraPrz (33475)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
14 Oct
I remember way back at the dawn of time (before my family moved from Lakeview to Elora) one Saturday a ladybug landed on my youngest sister's finger (she was maybe 5 or 6). She was delighted until it spread its outer wings and flew away. Then she (my sister) started screaming... she thought it exploded.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
Oh, dear.
1 person likes this
@BarBaraPrz (33475)
• St. Catharines, Ontario
15 Oct
@celticeagle Oddly enough, after posting the above, I went outside to read and a ladybug landed on my thumb, and later still I saw one trying to steal my raspberries.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
17 Oct
@BarBaraPrz .....How fun. I don't go out so I miss out on such things.
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@Tampa_girl7 (47337)
• United States
14 Oct
I always loved ladybugs until a new type came and enjoy pinching people.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
Pinching? Glad I haven't experienced those.
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@Tampa_girl7 (47337)
• United States
15 Oct
@celticeagle they’ve been in Mississippi for a decade or more. I was so shocked the first time it happened.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
16 Oct
@Tampa_girl7 .....Oh, I bet.
@oahuwriter (17930)
• United States
18 Oct
Interesting! Locally, when growing up, lots of ladybugs. But now days, I don't see much. I see the blue green ones mostly as I got older. Ladybugs considered good luck charm too.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
18 Oct
I enjoy that the ladybug is considered good luck if one lands on you.
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@oahuwriter (17930)
• United States
19 Oct
@celticeagle Yes. I researched it a little of ladybugs of Hawaii. I hadn't realized, they come in different colors.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
20 Oct
@oahuwriter ......I have seen a few different colors but mostly the red ones.
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@Nakitakona (45936)
• Philippines
14 Oct
That's interesting. They're good pests then.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
Always nice to have a few of those.
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@Nakitakona (45936)
• Philippines
15 Oct
@celticeagle When I was a kid I enjoyed watching it in the school garden. I attentively observed.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
17 Oct
@Nakitakona ......They are cute.
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@franxav (10624)
• India
14 Oct
Interesting. I was glad to know that it was named after Our Lady and that it helped farmers get rid of pests.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
So was I.
@xFiacre (10245)
• Ireland
14 Oct
@celticeagle And what about male ladybugs? What’s the proper term for them? Gentlemen bugs?
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
I don't know.
@marlina (133395)
• Canada
14 Oct
Interesting!
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
Thanks.
@Nawsheen (25784)
• Mauritius
14 Oct
Now the next time I see a ladybird this will remind me of your post. Very informative
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
Thank you!
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@jstory07 (111778)
• Roseburg, Oregon
14 Oct
That is very interesting. I did not know any of that.
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@celticeagle (125417)
• Boise, Idaho
14 Oct
I didn't either.
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