Having a ladybug land on you can be a magical moment. While other insects may pose a threat to humans, animals and crops alike, ladybugs are harmless -- and even better, they're beneficial! That's why so many cultures over the centuries have cherished ladybugs, believing them to bring good luck.
A Good Insect
Ladybugs, which are members of the beetle family, come in a variety of colors, notably red, and are recognized by the distinctive dots on their oval-shaped hard bodies. Farmers encourage ladybug populations in their fields because ladybugs protect crops from insects, especially from aphids and other sap feeders who can do great damage. A single ladybug can eat as many as 5,000 aphids in its lifetime, according to the University of Kentucky Department of Entomology.
Even though the ladybug is a North American insect, its delicate and artistic appearance has made it popular In many cultures, with a variety of superstitions to go along. One well-known superstition shared with children across cultures is: Never kill a ladybug because doing so will bring bad luck. The source of this adage was likely farmers, who wanted to protect these tiny but efficient crop defenders.
A Source of Good Luck
Some cultures believe seeing a ladybug brings good luck. The person may then succeed in love, have good weather, experience financial success or simply receive some other desired wish. Other cultures presume having a ladybug land on you brings good luck, or that whatever a ladybug lands on will be replaced with an improved version. Feng shui, the art of arranging spaces for optimum flow of energy, often incorporates the ladybug symbol.
The ladybug's distinctive spots also contribute to the symbolism surrounding the insect. In the Middle Ages, European Christian societies believed the beetle's spots represented the Seven Sorrows of Mary, according to Catholic Answers Forum. After the farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary to protect their crops, ladybugs supposedly appeared to defend the crops. The farmers called the bugs "Beetles of Our Lady," which evolved into "ladybugs" -- hence a reference to the Virgin Mary.
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Debra Levy has been writing for more than 30 years. She has had fiction and nonfiction published in various literary journals. Levy holds an M.A. in English from Indiana University and an M.F.A. in creative writing/fiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars.