Coccinellidae is a family of beetles, known variously as ladybirds (UK, Ireland, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, New Zealand, India, Malta, some parts of Canada and the US), or ladybugs (North America). Scientists increasingly prefer the names ladybird beetles or lady beetles as these insects are not true bugs. Lesser-used names include ladyclock, lady cow, and lady fly.
Coccinellids are small insects, ranging from 1 mm to 10 mm (0.04 to 0.4 inches), and are commonly yellow, orange, or scarlet with small black spots on their wing covers, with black legs, head and antennae. A very large number of coccinellid species are mostly, or entirely, black, grey, or brown and may be difficult for non-entomologists to recognize as coccinellids. Conversely, there are many small beetles that are easily mistaken for coccinellids, such as the tortoise beetles. Coccinellids are found worldwide, with over 5,000 species described, more than 450 native to North America alone.
Coccinellids are and have been for very many years a favorite insect of children. The insects had many regional names (now mostly disused) in English, such as the lady-cows, may-bug, golden-knop, golden-bugs (Suffolk); and variations on Bishop-Barnaby (Norfolk dialect) – Barnabee, Burnabee, the Bishop-that-burneth, and bishy bishy barnabee. The etymology is unclear but it may be from St. Barnabas feast in June, when the insect appears or a corruption of “Bishop-that-burneth”, from the fiery elytra of the beetles.
Many cultures consider Coccinellids lucky and have nursery rhymes or local names for the insects that reflect this. For instance, the Turkish name for the insect is uğur böceği, literally meaning luck bug. In many countries, including Russia, Turkey, and Italy, the sight of a ladybug is either a call to make a wish or a sign that a wish will soon be granted.
In Christian areas, Coccinellids are often associated with the Virgin Mary and the name that the insect bears in the various languages of Europe corresponds to this. Though historically many European languages referenced Freyja, the fertility goddess of Norse mythology, in the names, the Virgin Mary has now largely supplanted her, so that, for example, freyjuhœna (Old Norse) and Frouehenge have been changed into marihøne (Norwegian) and Marienkäfer (German), which corresponds with Our Lady’s Bird. Sometimes, the insect is referred to as belonging directly to God (Irish bóín Dé, Romanian vaca-Domnului, Polish boza krowka, all meaning “God’s [little] cow”). In Dutch it is called lieveheersbeestje, meaning “little animal of our Good Lord”.
In both Hebrew and Yiddish, it is called “Moshe Rabbenu’s (i.e. Moses’s) little cow” or “little horse”, apparently an adaptation from Slavic languages. Occasionally, it is called “Little Messiah”. Some languages name the insect by its color. In Finnish, the Coccinellid is, for its blood red color, called leppäkerttu, translating to Blood Gertrud from the ancient Finnic meaning blood or the word leppä (that means alder in modern Finnish).
Coccinellid is the inspiration for the production company of Julian Vigo, the ladybug is emblem of the drive for capturing the colourful, vibrant and lively images from this world.