“Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly Away Home”

An old English nursery rhyme that dates back to the mid 18th century or earlier. Seems rather a strange thing to teach to children, as are many nursery rhymes, if you think about it.

I like ladybugs, the gardener’s friend, and explored possible origins of this odd rhyme.

“Ladybug!  Ladybug!

Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.

All except one,
And that’s little Ann,
For she crept under
The frying pan.”

Or this version:

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,

Your house is on fire,

Your children shall burn!”

There are other variations, and it’s been made into a lovely little song.  Years ago when my eldest daughter was in a children’s’ choir they learned it in German.

I had no idea what the actual words were, just hummed along happily.  After I discovered the merry melody translated to, “Lady bug Lady bug fly away home, your house is afire and your children are burning,” I was rather taken aback. (*My grandbaby Emma dressed as a ladybug for Halloween)

From Favorite Poems Old and New, Selected for boys and girls by Helen Ferris Doubleday & Co., Inc.(1957)

“Lady-bird, Lady-bird, fly away home
the field mouse is gone to her nest
the daisies have shut up their sleepy red eyes
and the birds and the bees are at rest
Lady-bird, Lady-bird, fly away home
the glow worm is lighting her lamp
the dew’s falling fast, and your fine speckled wings
will flag with the close clinging damp
Lady-bird, Lady-bird, fly away home
the fairy bells tinkle afar
make haste or they’ll catch you and harness you fast
with a cobweb to Oberon’s star.”
*This one is much nicer than the others.
Possible meanings for the rhyme include: “Superstitious beliefs that it was unlucky to kill a ladybird, and that the verse would make them fly off. Another superstition states that you should chant the verse if a ladybird lands on you: if it then flies away again, your wish will come true.”
From Ladybug History Connection:
“Ladybug, ladybug” is chanted by children when a  ladybug insect lands on their person. If the ladybug doesn’t fly away of its own accord the child would gently blow it away chanting “Ladybug Ladybug fly away home”. This insect is found every summer in the gardens of Britain – the most common colour is red with black spots, less common are the yellow variety. In Britain ladybugs are referred to as ‘ladybirds’.
Farmers knew of the Ladybird’s value in reducing the level of pests in their crops and it was traditional for them to cry out the rhyme before they burnt their fields following harvests ( this reduced the level of insects and pests) in deference to the helpful ladybird.”
*There has been some speculation that this Nursery Rhyme originates from the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666
For more theories visit: Nursery Rhymes Lyrics and Origins
***All royalty free images

14 responses to ““Ladybug! Ladybug! Fly Away Home”

  1. Interesting and entertaining.


  2. Thanks Autumn. I enjoyed learning more.


  3. Learned something new. Interesting. Don’t think I have ever heard the ladybug song before.
    Sue B


  4. Pingback: Fly Away Home | My Magnificent Mess

  5. I think people just love Lady Bugs, I know I do. My granddaughter dressed up as a Lady Bug for Halloween when she was a year old. Her name is Lillian and we still call her Lilly Bug.


  6. I found this page after googling for the origin of the song. (I learned it as “your house is on fire, your children alone.”) I just read in a book that German children learned a version which translates to, “Ladybug flee, father’s in the war, mother is in Pomerania, but Pomerania is burned to the ground. Ladybug flee!” It originated during the religious wars after the Reformation.


  7. When I was young my grandmother taught me the ladybug song. My grandmother was German. It never dawned on me just how morbid the song really is until I was older.
    Ladybug Ladybug fly away home
    Your house is on fire
    Your Children Are Burning
    Ladybug Ladybug fly away home

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It is ashame many of the nursery rhymes we grew up with have such horrible meanings.

    I really enjoyed your post and your granddaughter is adorable!!

    I was going to get a nursery rhyme book for my grandson but I ended up giving him board books that were nice stories.

    Children grow up too quick anymore
    Why make them see horror any sooner than they need to.


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