What is it about ladybugs that inspires such affection?
Is it their pleasingly symmetrical half-oval appearance? The fact that they don't sting? The splotchy decorations on their carapace, which resemble a child's first attempt at fingerpainting? Or perhaps their dogged, mild-mannered way of crawling to the top of whatever they land on, spreading their outer shells to reveal an unexpectedly complex structure of hidden wings, and flying gracefully away?
Whatever the explanation is, people love ladybugs. Europeans, in fact, put them under the protection of supernatural forces. In Germany, these critters are called Marienkäfer -- "Mary beetles" (yes, that Mary).
Not to be outdone, the Dutch take ladybug adoration to its logical conclusion. I have it on good authority from a Belgian friend (and remember, Flemish Belgians don't speak Flemish, they speak Dutch. Note that well.), that in Dutch, a ladybug is an Onze-lieve-Heersbestje. Literally translated, "Our-dear-Lordbeastlet", or more flowingly, "the little beast of our dear Lord."
Almost makes you want to move to Holland (or Belgium), doesn't it?
[Hat tip to PDK]
P.S. Off to England tomorrow. Hope to post some updates while I'm there, but in any case check back next week, when I'll resume "providing content."