Our Lady’s Bug

The original name of the ladybug is “Our Lady’s Bug.” It seems that during the Middle Ages, a plague of small insects (probably aphids) attacked the crops, threatening Europe with starvation. The people had recourse to Our Lady, and petitioned her to save them from this plague. In answer to their prayer, a cloud of small, black-spotted, orange-red insects arrived and promptly ate all the offending pests. The grateful population gave to them the name, “Our Lady’s Bugs.” Variations of the name in English include “Ladybug,” “Ladybird,” and “Ladybeetle.” In a comparison of over 40 languages, including different dialects, this small beetle is given a great variety of names. Those referring to Our Lady come out on top, with names having references to God coming in second, like “God’s Little Cow” (Dievo Karvute, Lithuanian; Vaquilla de Dios, Spanish), and “Dear God’s Little Creature” (Lieve Heersbeestje, Dutch). Here follows a list of several foreign words for Ladybug:

  • Ye Mariam Tinziza … “Mary’s Beetle”…Amharic (West Ethiopia)
  • Arca de la Mare de Deu… “Mother of God’s Ark”…Catalan
  • Gallinetta de la Mare de Deu… “Mother of God’s Chicken” …Catalan
  • Bubamara … “Mary’s Beetle” …Croatian
  • Mariehøne … “Mary’s Hen” …Danish (and Norwegian, if the ‘e’ is made an  ‘a’)
  • Onzer-lieve-vrouwe Beestje… “Our Dear Lady’s Little Creature” …Dutch
  • Bete de la Vierge … “The Virgin’s Creature” …French
  • Frauenkäferlein … “Our Lady’s Little Beetle” …German (Bohemia)
  • Scarpa de la Madona … “The Madonna’s Shoe” …Italian (Turin)
  • Kafsch Dus … “God’s Beetle” …Persian (Iran)
  • Boul-popei … “The Pope’s Ox” …Romanian
  • Jungfru Maria Nyckelpiga… “Virgin Mary’s Key Maid” …Swedish