The Ladybug

Yearly Cycle of Power: Summer
Time of Power: Day
Attributes: Luck, Joy, Easy Going, Bright, Trust, Passive Aggression, and Faith

The ladybug is a paradox in terms of its interaction with humans. While generally humans detest beetles of any sort, we tend to love the ladybug. While most people would shriek when a beetle flew and landed, or walked on our skin, we take great pleasure in having a ladybug walk across us. Why do we love these festive little beetles? Is it because of their bright colours or their happy nature? Regardless, the ladybug is an animal that we have held in high regard for thousands of years. These creatures seem to be the essence of trust and an easygoing nature. They will crawl onto you without fearlessly, even though you could kill them in an instant. They seem to know that you will not. To kill them would be counter to the joy that they seem to emanate from within.

The ladybug is a member of the beetle family. Beetles are the largest order of animals, with some estimating over 10 Million species (about 350000 have been identified). Beetles make up almost a full quarter of animal species on our planet. There are about 4500 species of ladybugs worldwide, with over 400 in North America. They are found in nearly all climates and latitudes. They are hemispheric in shape, looking like a red pea cut in half with 6 black spots on their backs (some species have more or less spots). The adult is generally red in colour but can also come in yellow, orange, or pink tones depending on its age. Like all beetles, ladybugs are insects and have 6 legs. They eat by chewing with their teeth. Their scientific name is Coccinellidae, the meaning of which is subject to debate. Some think it derives from the Latin Coccinatus, which means 'Clad in Scarlet'. Others think it means 'Little Sphere'. Other common names for the Ladybug are: 'Lady Beetle', 'Lady Bird', 'Good News', 'Gods Little fatty' (They call it this in Switzerland), 'Cows of the Lady', 'Mary's Beetle', 'Cows of the Virgin', 'Flower Lady', 'Indra's Cowherd', 'Crop Picker', 'Lady cow', and 'Freya's Hens'. Its hard shell is actually wing covers called Elytra. Elytra are made of the same material as human fingernails. When a ladybug flies, its elytra move to the side to reveal delicate transparent wings. These wings flap at a rate of 85 times a second, giving the ladybug flight. They have antennae, which they use for touch, hearing and smell. They also use their feet to smell.

Ladybugs reproduce sexually, but they are not monogamous in any way. Their eggs are small and yellow and often laid in small clusters stuck to leaves. Some ladybugs lay up to 1000 eggs at a time. The mother takes great care to make sure that aphids (their food source) are plentiful in the area she lays her eggs, but this is her last parental duty. After this she wishes them the best of luck and heads off on her own. The eggs hatch in about a week's time. The larvae have six legs and are black with small orange or white markings. The larvae look like spiky accordions with legs. They molt a few times before pupating at about 1 month old. The pupal period lasts about a week and when the adult of the species emerges, it is yellow until its wings harden. Mating takes place in the spring and since the growth cycle is so quick, several generations can be produces within one summer. In the winter, ladybugs huddle together under logs or rocks for warmth. As many as 10000 may be found in such groups. Those that survive the bitter cold winters emerge again in spring to mate once more.

Ladybugs are predators by nature, feasting on aphids, mites, and other small plant-eating insects. They may eat thousands of these in their lifetime. The female may eat up to 75 aphids a day, while the smaller male may eat up to 40 aphids a day. Since aphids are generally bad for plants, farmers and gardeners see ladybugs as a good luck omen. Some of them even import ladybugs to counteract pests like aphids. Ladybugs march forward in a straight line, feeling for aphids and other prey along their way. Its not really an active hunting of prey, but more of a faith that what they need will be in their path. On the other side of the coin, not much preys on ladybugs. They secrete a bad tasting fluid from their legs if caught by a predator (bird, spider, etc). This fluid is called beetle juice and it is so distasteful that the spider or bird will let them go and remember not to try to munch on a ladybug again. The ladybugs bright colouring and spots are nature's way of saying 'don't eat me'. Ladybugs will also often play dead in dangerous situations to deter predators, as many predators of small insects wont eat something that is already dead. The only other killer of ladybugs is mankind.  They have been traditionally been killed for their supposed medicinal properties. Ground up they supposedly cured everything including toothache, crying babies, stomachache, and measles. Generally in the modern age, we kill most ladybugs through the use of pesticides. This is quite ironic, as by killing the ladybugs, you are killing the creatures that are natural pest controllers. By using pesticides you may kill some pests, but you also kill those that kill those pests, so at the end of the day you may be no better off.

The ladybug has a rich history of folklore and mythology. It is said to be good luck if a ladybug lands on you. It needs to fly away on its own will if you wish to keep the luck, and the ladybug rhyme must be recited (mentioned below). Seeing a ladybug is supposed to indicate good weather. In Switzerland, they thought that human babies were brought by ladybugs. Fewer than seven spots on a ladybug was supposed to bring a good harvest. A ladybug crawling across a girl's hand was supposed to mean marriage was in her near future. The key to much of the ladybugs mythology comes from its rhyme, of which there are a few versions.

'Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
Your house is on fire and your children are gone.
All but one, and her name is Ann,
And she crept under the pudding pan.'

'Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
Your little house is burning.
Your little mother is crying and
Your father is on the threshold,
Fly away to heaven, away from hell'

This rhyme is interesting. There are some that think it has to do with harvesting. One interesting interpretation is that it has to do with the suppression of paganism in Europe. This seems like a stretch, but lets look at the rhyme closer to see where this is coming from. The theory is that this rhyme originated around the time that Christianity took over. The Ladybug before this time was a symbol of goddess worship. In particular Freya, Lucina, Anu, Juno, and all white goddess figures like Selene, Isis, and Arianrhod. The 'ladybug, ladybug, fly away home' line is a reference for the pagans to either go away or go into hiding. 'Your house is on fire and your children are gone' is a reference to destruction of temples and scattering of worshippers. And then there is the last part 'All but one and her name is Ann, and she crept under the pudding pan'. This part is a vague reference to the mother goddess Anu: it refers to some that are in hiding still. The second rhyme is similarly interpreted, with the mother crying referring to the goddess, and the father representing the Christian god. Fly away to heaven, away from hell is taken to be a plea to convert to the new religion. When Christianity finally took over, the name of 'ladybug' was appropriated to mean sacred to the virgin Mary. In truth, the goddesses that the ladybug was sacred to are much older than Mary, be they Freya or Isis. They were said to punish anyone for 9 days if they harmed a ladybug. Some believe that the ladybug is a holdover from scarab worship with Isis. Whatever the source goddess, the ladybug represented spiritual faith and devotion.

Like their totem animal, those with a ladybug totem will probably bring joy to those around them. It will simply emanate from them. People will enjoy being around them. This does not mean that they are social by nature. They may be social, they may be not, it is quite irrelevant. They may be the life of the party without even desiring to be so (or even noticing that they are). They will be trusting and happy and easy going. Like the ladybug marching in a straight line to get food, they may have an immense trust that things happen that need to happen and there is no need worrying about it overly. It's this easy-going trusting nature that allows a person with a ladybug totem to blow into your life and not feel like they are trespassing in your life. A person with a ladybug totem will be quite tactile, often using touch as their primary sense. One might think that a ladybug totem would be fearless like their namesake. While ladybugs seem to not fear humans, they are not stupid. If there is real trouble they know it and will either play dead or excrete noxious beetle juice. They are simply masters of knowing when there is trouble and when there isn't. A person with a ladybug totem would be very similar. They would have a talent of knowing when a situation is trouble or not. If it there is no trouble, then they are fearless and at ease. When trouble is abound, or they are not getting their way, that's when the personality of a ladybug totem changes. A person with a ladybug totem is a master of passive aggression. They will never act in an aggressive way if they are threatened, but they may find a way to make the situation intolerable to the aggressor. This could include guilt trips, faking injury, or other passive aggressive techniques. As it is a creature with a heavy myth that ties it to female divine figures (Christian or otherwise), a person with a ladybug totem will most likely have a spiritual focus in their life. As a career, people with a ladybug totem will prefer careers with either a spiritual focus or work that happens in batches. This calls to their core of spirituality, or recons back to the ladybug marching in a straight line to gather aphids (batch work). Work as a reverend, pastor, minister, nurse, charity work, etc will fill the spiritual career side. Batch work like accounting, banking, cashier, assembly line work, etc fills the other aspect of their career. A ladybug totem will most likely find it optimal to do a little of both of these paths.

Written by RavenDreamer