The Bug Box: Christmas insect ornaments

Purdue University

University of Kentucky

This bug is creeping around your property. He may be friend or foe.

Name: Christmas Insects

Alias: The not–so-creepy-crawlies of Christmas. This time of year, insects are difficult to come by. There are not many insects that are showcased during the many holidays of December. However, if you look at many Christmas tree decorations, you will probably spot ladybugs, butterflies and honeybees. These are fairly common ornaments. All of these are symbols associated with Christian theology. Ladybugs (or more correctly lady bird beetles) are great predators on aphids and were considered a “godsend’ for peasant farmers. This insect became known as the bug sent by “Our Lady” the Virgin Mary or “Our Lady’s Bug.” Today we shorten it to ladybug. The butterfly has long been a Christian symbol. The changing of the caterpillar into the beautiful butterfly has come to symbolize the human soul. Honeybees have been associated with humans for thousands of years. Not only do these insects pollinate flowers, they also provide honey and wax, products that humans relish. We also admire their industry. So, ornaments in the shape of ladybugs, butterflies or honeybees are used to decorate the yule tree. In addition, dragonfly ornaments have recently shown up among the many types of decorations available to adorn holiday greenery. Insects are seldom mentioned in Christmas carols. The only one I could find was Nuttin for Christmas. There are actually two references to insects. The poor kid is not getting anything for Christmas because he made Tommy eat a bug and filled the sugar bowl with ants.

Crimes: Other than Tommy’s unlikely indigestion and the loss of a little sugar, references to insects at Christmas are good guys.

Redeeming Qualities: They allow the opportunity for reflection.

Sentence: Perhaps a Christmas carol such as: Here come ladybugs, here come ladybugs right down ladybug lane?

For more information on dangerous and beneficial bugs, call agent Wayne Jones at the Bonneville County Extension Office at 208-529-1390.