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VMs: "The Devils Chicken" and other [hi]stories... :-)
BTW: Dr Arthur Wallis Exell OBE, born 1901, died sometime between 1991 and
now. He was a botanist, who worked for the British Museum (Natural History)
for many years. AFAICT, his final book was "History of the Ladybird".
Quoting from Gordon's Ladybird Beetle page (now defunct, but still in
The name Ladybird arises from the vernacular name for the
common 7-Spot Ladybird (Coccinella 7-punctata) in Europe.
Our Lady's Bird, the Lady in this case being 'The Virgin Mary'
from Christian Mythology. The red base colour of the elytra
is said to represent her cloak and the 7 black spots to
represent the 'Virgins' 7 joys and 7 sorrows.
Relating Ladybirds to the Virgin Mary is not unusual, in 1991
Dr. A.W. Exell published his book "History of the Ladybird"
in which he cites 329 common names for the Ladybird from
55 countries, of which over 80 refer to the Virgin Mary and
more than 50 are dedicated to God. Contrarily one Italian
name is 'Galineta del Diaolo' or 'The Devils Chicken'. Other
names include the Swedish Himelska nyckla or 'The Keys
of Heaven' and the Cherokee 'Great Beloved Woman'
He often made field-trips to Africa, once reporting on whether or not khat
was a narcotic:-
His estate may still have his notes on the VMS - though there's nothing
obvious on the web (that I can see) about where/when he died, his
publishers (or friends at the BM) may know.
Cheers, .....Nick Pelling.....