Love bugs

by Gail Emerson June 09, 2016

Flying with love on their wings

The DM Bugs and Butterflies Collection brings together four tiny creatures who have more than their delicate wings in common. Each in its own way is symbolic of love and romance.

Dragonflies are credited with the association of the heart shape with love. In their intricate mating ritual (insect reproduction is always a bit complex), two dragonflies' bodies often come together to form the shape of the heart. Dragonflies are also strongly associated in Norse mythology with the goddess of love Freya. Her love for her husband, Odr, was so strong that she sheds crimson tears when he is away. But remember, monogamy was a new-fangled idea brought in by the new religions. Freya also wears the most beautiful silver necklace which she paid for, not with gold, but by spending a night with each of the four dwarves who made it. (Though Odr wasn't delighted by to say the least).

Ladybirds were also linked to Freya. They were once known in German as 'Freyjuhaena', before switching their allegiance to the Virgin Mary as Christianisation swept across Europe.

Perhaps as ladybirds are the colour of love, a brilliant red, that they are a sign of love coming your way – or maybe its just that they are all round lucky. Chinese superstition says a ladybird landing on you is a sign that true love will come – you just need to count the dots on its shell to find out how long you need to wait (sources vary as to whether a dot is a month or a year!) Alternatively, if a ladybird crawls over an unwed woman's hand she will be married with in a year.

The butterfly is involved in a more tragic romance. The legend of Liang Shanbo and Zhu Yingtai is widely considered a Chinese Romeo and Juliet. In ancient China, Zhu dressed as a man to pursue her studies and fell in love with fellow student Liang. Liang failed to notice that Zhu was a woman so she promised to introduce him to one of her 'sisters' to marry. But by the time he had raised the funds needed to propose, Zhu had already been betrothed to another. Shedding tears together, the star-crossed lovers promised to be together in the next life and went their separate ways. Without his true love, Liang died of a broken heart. Hearing the news, Zhu visited his tomb shortly after her marriage. The tomb opened up miraculously, and she jumped in to be with her love. A pair of butterflies flew out – the souls of the lovers together at last.

In a more jolly take, Aesop paints the butterfly as a flighty lover flitting between his floral mates. And as for the bumble bee … well, do we really need to explain the birds and the bees here?

Shop the whole DM Bugs and Butterflies Collection

Gail Emerson
Gail Emerson


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