lac insect

Allen W Thrasher athr at LOC.GOV
Thu Apr 21 16:29:50 UTC 2005

While we're on this, does anyone know the scientific name of the the indragopa, a bright red beetle, which I was under the impression was bright red and about the size (I would estimate 3-4 mm long) of what in the US we call a ladybug or ladybird? (The latter is also bright red, but with black spots.)  Monier-Williams says it is the lac insect, but I doubt that.  Among other things, as I recall in kavya it is mentioned that the indragopa comes out in the monsoons and is found in the grass or herbage, whereas the lac insect dwells on certain trees or shrubs, and is not associated with any particular season.  A standard trope is to compare indragopas to drops of blood, or the reverse.

I also thought I remembered that in Wasson's Soma book there was a discussion of the indragopa and its association with soma in India and of similar beetles and the fly agaric elsewhere.  But I had a quick look at the book and saw no such thing in the text or index, just a discussion of the associations of the plants with flies.

I will have to look at the Opie's book on nursery rhymes, sub "Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home."  I am quite sure I read someplace that the association of such small bright red beetles with divine beings (Our Lady, Indra) is very widespread.

I once saw a lot of bright but very tiny bugs or other non hard-shelled insects (not beetles) in Jahanara Park in Delhi during the monsoon, and wondered if that could be the indragopa, but they were so small I wondered how they could be compared to drops of blood in size.


Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
Senior Reference Librarian
Southern Asia Section
Asian Division
Library of Congress
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