Our photo of the day offers a lesson in nomenclature.
In the United States, we call these charming members of the Coleoptera order ladybugs – a name that seems appropriate for denoting the cuteness, but since they aren't true bugs, it's a bit of a misnomer. In Europe, ladybugs are called ladybirds or ladybird beetles. But come to think of it, they aren't exactly birds either; which is why scientists usually refer to them as lady beetles.
As legend has it, farmers during the Middle Ages prayed to the Virgin Mary (AKA the Blessed Lady) to help with crop pests; enter the pest-eating ladybugs and voila. Farmers called them "our lady's birds." Merriam-Webster explains that it was the seven-spotted Coccinella septempunctata that was first linked it to the Virgin Mary; its seven spots were thought to symbolize the seven sorrows she suffered. An ironic twist given that these cutest of beetles bring so much joy.
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