Indragopa (was Re: lac insect)

Dominik Wujastyk d.wujastyk at UCL.AC.UK
Thu Apr 21 17:26:36 UTC 2005

Indragopa insect: Most of the Indic dictionaries say `cochineal' which
can't be true because that's S. American.  I thought for a while it was
this red/black wasp.  But again, probably not.  I now believe I've got
good authorities for thinking that indragopa = indragopaa = lac =
laaksaa = Kerria lacca (Kerr.).


On Thu, 21 Apr 2005, Allen W Thrasher wrote:

> 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
> Allen W. Thrasher, Ph.D.
> Senior Reference Librarian
> Southern Asia Section
> Asian Division
> Library of Congress
> Jefferson Building 150
> 101 Independence Ave., S.E.
> Washington, DC 20540-4810
> tel. 202-707-3732
> fax 202-707-1724
> athr at
> The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Library of Congress.

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