Ladybugs are those fantastical real-life tiny creatures that look like they stepped straight out of a Disney animated movie. Given their tell-tale cartoon-like shape, color and dots it’s not surprising that they are the origin of many stories and are symbols of luck and fortune.
Part of a widespread family of small beetles called Coccinellidae (meaning "little red sphere”) these tiny creatures’ common names vary in English, in North America they are known as ladybugs and ladybirds in Britain. Entomologists like to call them ladybird beetles or lady beetles because they are not true bugs.
Their latin name, Coccinellidae comes from the latin word for scarlet. And the designation of "Lady" or "Mary" in many countries comes from the fact that the Virgin Mary was often depicted in paintings in a red cloak, additionally the seven dots seen often on the ladybugs back symbolizing her seven joys or seven sorrows.
Often they are colored yellow, orange or red but also come in brown and other colors as well. They can have spots, stripes or no markings at all. Most ladybugs are seven spotted with 3 on each side and one in the middle. They are beneficial to us because they eat aphids and other agricultural pests including a moth that costs US agriculture $1 Billion every year.
Ladybugs a Symbol of Luck
Ladybugs are considered lucky all over the world. One such story explains it like this. During the reign of King Robert II of France (972–1031), a prisoner was saved from being executed by guillotine when a ladybug repeatedly landed on his neck convincing the king that this was divine intervention. Thereafter the little beetle was known as bête a Bon Dieu (literally the animal of Good God).
A common belief is that if a ladybird lands on you, your wish will come true. Also, it is believed that the brighter the red coat, the stronger the luck, and the number of black spots on the creature’s wings will be the number of months you’ll be blessed with lucky intervention. Conversely, killing one is said to bring sorrow and misfortune.
Ladybug Legends and Stories:
These adorable little beetles are not only real world helpers to farmers and gardeners they are also the source of countless tales that describe them as rescuers. There is a European legend that tells of a time in the in the Middle Ages, when pests plagued crops, because of this the farmers prayed to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to save their harvest. Many ladybugs started visiting them soon after, clearing out the pests. The farmers called the little beetles “our lady’s birds” or lady beetles.
In France, if a Ladybug lands on you, any ailment you sustain will disappear when the ladybug flies away
If you hold a ladybug in your cupped hands then let if fly away the direction where it flies indicates where your luck will come from
In Belgium, if a Ladybug walks across
a young girl's hand, she will be married in a year.
Parents tell their children that ladybugs brought them as babies!
Some Asian cultures believe that the Ladybug understands
human language, and has been blessed by God, Himself.
In Brussels, the spots on the back of a Ladybug foretells how many children you will have.
In Norse mythology the Ladybug came to down to earth
riding on a bolt of lightning (woohoo!)
In Victorian England they believed that if a Ladybug landed on your
hand, you would be getting new gloves.....if on your head,
a new hat etc.
It was a good omen to find a Ladybug in your log cabin
during the winter, during the settler days.
British farmers forecast plentiful crops if they see lots of ladybugs flying around in the spring.
In Norway, if a two people see a Ladybug at the same time,
they will soon find romance.
“Fly, fly pashalitsa
to bring me shoes
and pretty clothes.”
In Norfolk UK, What you say if a ladybug lands on your hand
Bishy bishy barney bee
Tell me when your wedding be
If it be tomorrow day
Take your wings and fly away.
Fly to the east, fly to the west,
Fly to the one I love the best.
Flyg öster, flyg vester,
Dit du flyger der bor din älskade!
Fly east, fly west,
You’ll fly to where your sweetheart lives
Ladybug, ladybug fly away home, your house is on fire your children and alone.
Names for Ladybugs in Different Languages
Austrian - Glückskäfer
Brazil - Joaninha ‘Little Joana’
Catalan - marieta ‘little mary’
Czech - Slunécko
Denmark - Mariehøne
Dutch - Lieveheersbeestje ‘a sweet Lord’s animal/little creature’ or Kapoentje
English - Ladybug (US), ladybird, lady clock, lady cow, and lady fly | North London ‘poor peggies’
Farsi/Persian (Iran) - Kafshdoozak ‘tiny shoe maker’
French - ‘poulette de la madone’ Our lady's little hen ‘beast of the good god’
German - Marienkafer ‘Mary’s bug’ | Siebenpunkt ‘Seven point’ | Glückskäfer ‘fortune bug’
Hebrew Parat Moshe Rabenu
Hindi - sonapankhi ‘golden wings’
Indonesian - ’Kumbang Kepik’ or ‘Kumbang Koksi’
Italy - Coccinella
Japan Tentou Mushi
Jordan Da'asouqah Abu Ali - Father of Ali | Abu Sulayman - Father of Solomon
Korea - Mudangbule
Latvia - Mara
Malaysia - Kumbang
Norway - Mariehøne
Occitan language - ‘Galineta’ = little hen | ‘buou de nostre Senher’ = Our Lord's Ox
Poland - Biedronka
Portugal/Brazil - Joaninha ‘Little Joana’
Romania - Buburuzã ‘
Russia - Bosya Kopovka ‘God’s little beetle”
Slovania - Pikapolonica
Spain - Mariquita
Spanish - Mariquita ‘Little mary’
Sweden - Nykelpiga
Uruguay - ‘san antonios’
Zulu - Ilsikazana Esincane