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tinyfaery's avatar

Why are ladybugs usually exempt from entomophobia?

Asked by tinyfaery (42939points) March 18th, 2010

I hate bugs, especially flying ones. Yes, how typical. I hate the way they move and if they come into my house I make sure my cats kill them. If I see a bug outside I move away from the area. Bugs flying around me freak me out. So why am I not scared of ladybugs? They are buggish and they even fly, but when I see one I stop and look. If one lands on me I take it to a plant and let it crawl or fly off. If any other type of bug (not moths or butterflies) landed on me I would squeal and jump around to get it off me.

It’s not just me. It can’t simply be because they are red. Is it conditioning from childhood?

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31 Answers

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Our teachers taught us from our earliest memories that they are cute.
Im sure the ancient Egyptians had no problems with those huge beetles for similar reasons.

ParaParaYukiko's avatar

Ladybugs are among the favorites of the insect world. They’re pretty and they don’t directly harm humans or crops in any way I know of. They don’t sting or bite, so there’s not much TO be afraid of. Of course, there are people who fear things that aren’t rational (buttons, for example), but as far as insects go ladybugs are as innocent and gentle as they come.

I wonder if anyone has been killed by a ladybug before.

wilma's avatar

I don’t mind them either and I’m not a bug lover. Maybe because their legs don’t show much?
and they have polka dots? Everyone loves polka dots.

deni's avatar

Because they are cute and not gross and they don’t look creepy and you want to like them.

tinyfaery's avatar

But why aren’t they gross?

ragingloli's avatar

They are called Marienkäfer (Mary beetle) in German.

jaytkay's avatar

I think @wilma is onto something, the legs don’t stick out much. Their faces are compact, too, no freaky mouth parts or pincers.

DominicX's avatar

I think seeing ladybugs as not gross has to do with the fact that they are pretty, unlike many bugs. They have bright colors and a pattern that looks nice. You might point out that butterflies and moths can be pretty, but they’re also bigger. A lot of people don’t want bigger bugs around them, but a tiny little ladybug is not the same.

Not to mention ladybugs are associated with kids; there are cute ladybugs with big eyes in kids’ cartoons and books. That could have something to do with it. I had a ladybug-shaped sandbox when I was little.

deni's avatar

@tinyfaery because they aren’t hairy, they don’t “slink” around like caterpillars. they don’t have a bunch of eyes. you can’t see a million legs (or even eight for that matter)...they just look more pleasant than most other bugs.

i think another exception is the grasshopper. not to the same extent but still. not a very scary bug.

trailsillustrated's avatar

theyre so pretty! some of em bite

casheroo's avatar

they aren’t exempt from my fear. I can’t stand any bugs.

bagelface's avatar

They are not quite as cute in their childhood.

In Russian they are called bozha kapovka (god’s cow)

Jude's avatar

Aw, they’re so cute (and in Chinese culture, they bring good luck if you find them in your house). Like others have said, big eyes, can’t see any creepy legs, cute polka-dot pattern, tiny and they don’t bite. Although, Japanese beetles do.

Draconess25's avatar

I try to love all animals (even bugs), but certain ones just creep me out. Like ants, spiders, etc. I mean, they’re okay in cartoons & such….But I love ladybugs, moths, butterflies, & fireflies.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I had to read the ‘explanation’ of your Q very carefully to understand what you were getting onto. My first thought was: “bugs with phobias?” ... how New Age is that?

Wish I had an answer, but I loved the Q.

netgrrl's avatar

Actually I know someone who’s phobic about ladybugs & says they bite. I keep meaning to google it.

Jeruba's avatar

Are they popular little design elements and mascots and friends because we like them, or do we like them because we see them so often depicted in a friendly way? If we saw little caterpillar motifs on kids’ clothes or cute spider designs on greeting cards and household items, wouldn’t we feel warmer toward them?

But their shape and appearance has to be a factor. They simply look cute and pretty, and they are harmless. Benign. They resemble little decorated turtle shells more than they look like any kind of bug.. They’re low on the scale of insectitudinousness.

Supacase's avatar

@deni I hate grasshoppers! I can’t stand them throwing themselves at me and pelting my legs. They freak me out.

serena933's avatar

It probably is all in cultural conditioning. The reason we have such an aversion to most insects is we are taught by our parents and society that they are “gross” or can harm us in some way. The ones that have a more aesthetic quality, like butterflies, possibly dragonflies, and ladybugs are seen as not harmful and even pretty. Everyone has their own answer for why they dislike insects, but it probably all started with some basic conditioning…After I began to ask these questions of myself, I could further appreciate all insects!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

GQ – I hate bugs too and don’t mind ladybugs. I think it’s because they’re dressed like proper ladies, you know?

EmpressPixie's avatar

Wait until you get a Japanese lady beetle infestation. You’ll never feel the same way about them again. I used to think they were cute. Now they totally freak me out.

Buttonstc's avatar

I definitely think a lot has to do with the absence of multi-jointed appendages sticking out at all angles with sharp pointed edges.

If there are any Babylon-5 fans here, I don’t think it’s an accident that the villainous spaceships had a spider like form and their inhabitants were insectoid forms. They just evoked total fear and disgust.

Ladybugs just don’t look like insects typically do with all the sharp angles.

Ladybugs are little, red, cute and round. The polka dots are just icing on the cake, so to speak.

We as humans are hard-wired to respond favorably and nurturingly to neotany. It helps in propogating our species

This is why we want to nuture babies with their rounded heads and large eyes. Kittens, puppies and other animal babies have the same rounded “cute” features.

Remember the cartoon series “Muppet Babies”? It was hugely popular in it’s day. Not entirely accidental. Could you get any rounder, big eyed and cuter than that ? Awwwww

Ladybugs have that similar quality except in miniature (so not threatening at all). Awww

Neotany does it’s job once again.

vanausdr's avatar

I’ve never hated ladybugs, but I’ve have grown to like them in the last couple of years. Yes, they’re cute, like little turtles, but it might also be because I’ve learned a little bit about them. Technically, they’re beetles, not bugs, which is an entirely different order. They’ve also been used to control other pests like aphids and mites in gardens.
But what I’ve found to be most distinctive is the order that they give off. It’s something of a slightly soar, musty smell, probably used to deter predators (they probably don’t taste very good – my cats don’t eat them). I’ve come to be very familiar with it during the winter when they congregate around lamps and in our basement. It’s not a complete infestation, but they’re hard to miss. And I do the same thing you do when they land on me, especially in my home. I like to count the dots on their wing casings and then place them near a lamp in the basement when it’s cold outside. I’m trying to train myself to call them lady beetles too…I think it gives them a little more respect.

OpryLeigh's avatar

@tinyfaery Just out of interest, how do you feel about Butterflies?

andrew's avatar

@Buttonstc Has it. A big part is their shape and roundness. Imagine if a ladybug had giant spindly legs. Not so cute.

On another note, once I was playing war when i was a kid and i hid with my back behind a dead stump. I saw a ladybug on me and i turned around, and on the stump was a carpet of hundreds and hundreds of ladybugs (but they were orange and yellowish too). Some of them were not moving or dead, and they were crawling all over each other. You couldn’t see the stump.

But, I still like ladybugs. I also like snails, too, though.

Also, they’re called ladybirds in the UK, I think.

andrew's avatar

@EmpressPixie After reading your post, that’s exactly what they were. Gross.

Roby's avatar

Ladybugs generally do not injure humans but are mainly a nuisance. However, recent studies suggest that ladybugs can cause some reactions, such as eye irritation or asthma. Dr. Linda Gilkeson, states “You bet those little critters can bite! They don’t have any kind of venom or irritating saliva(like mosquitoes, black flies, etc.), but they are just big enough for us to feel it when they pinch our skin.” The ladybugs emit an acrid odor and can stain surfaces with their yellowish secretions; this defense reaction known as “reflex bleeding,” which prevents predators, such as birds, from eating them. However, in a home, the fluid can stain walls and fabrics. “This substance actually is ladybug blood,” says Tedders, a researcher from the United States Department of Agriculture. “It comes out the joints of the legs. Ladybugs are not structure-damaging pests and they will enter the wall of buildings through

Nullo's avatar

I stayed in a house once that had a ladybug infestation literally about 200 of them on the ceiling by the light. Never triggered any kind of fear or anxiety, but they were a pain.

wilma's avatar

I know that Japanese beetles bite and stink, stain, and can infest your home, but do Lady bugs?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@wilma they “glow”.

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