Historically and cross-culturally, ladybugs are believed to be talismans of luck. Some believe that, if a ladybug lands on you, you should count the number of spots to predict how many years of good luck you’ll have. Many think the spots indicate the number of months until your greatest wish comes true. Some say that the redder the ladybug, the better your luck will be. There are even folk tales that say when a ladybug comes to call, true love will follow soon after. So it seems a ladybug landing is quite lucky indeed!
In turn, superstition states that killing a ladybug will curse you with bad luck.
Whether you put much stock in the myth, it can’t be disputed that ladybugs have become a symbol for good fortune. But what is the source of this long-standing legend of ladybugs and luck?
Likely, it was farmers! Ladybugs, more specifically their larvae, dine on pests and leave good bugs and plants alone. They are voracious eaters and love the soft-bodied problem insects that plague crops and gardens. So you can see why famers would want to protect these little crop-defenders.
We at the South Carolina Aquarium also use them for pest management, specifically mealybug control. Mealybugs are tiny, white, oval-shaped insects that rapidly infest plants – you can usually find them clustered on the underside of a plant leaf. This morning, we released ladybugs into plant pots in the Great Hall and the Carolina Bay, Chameleon, and Rainforest Wall exhibits. Using ladybugs allows us to keep the plants healthy without using harmful pesticides.
So it’s no surprise that ladybugs are cherished by so many cultures – we certainly appreciate them here at the Aquarium!