Saturday 26 May 2012

Why are Ladybirds Called Ladybirds?

Garden Boy frequently asks me why things are called what they are and most of the time, a name is just a name for no particular reason. However, Ladybirds were reportedly named after the Virgin Mary. Our native Ladybird is red, with seven spots, the link being that the Virgin Mary is often depicted wearing a red cloak. The seven spots of a ladybird represent the seven sorrows and seven joys of Mary. The Virgin Mary is often referred to as 'Our Lady', hence 'Ladybird'. The 'bird' part of the name, I can only assume comes from the fact that ladybirds have wings and can fly.

When I passed this on to Garden Boy I simply told him that Jesus' mother, Mary is shown, in lots of pictures and statues, wearing a red cloak, just like a Ladybird. People frequently call, Jesus' mother 'Our Lady' and so the name Lady was given to the bug because it reminded people of Jesus' mother and her red cloak. And the bird bit is there because a ladybird has wings and can fly like a bird.

I refrained from mentioning the seven sorrows and joys as I didn't want further questions about the sorrows, but had he gone on to ask about the spots I think I would have told him that seven sad things and seven really fantastic things happened to Mary and the seven spots remind people of these. 

There are lots more interesting facts about Ladybirds on the UK Ladybird Survey website here.

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