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  • Writer's pictureBetty Girardeau

Ladybug, Ladybug, Fly away Home...

I never see a ladybug that I don't think of this rhyme that I learned as a child. These are interesting insects, and I expect that almost everyone is aware of them in and around their homes. I have heard that in droves they are not an insect you want to have around. But they are actually really, really beneficial insects. Did you know that a single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 other insects in a lifetime, which is typically about a year? One year at our church in Virginia, ladybugs decided that their large "colony" would overwinter in the church. They were a bit of a pest, flying around in the sanctuary during the service requiring the organist and some members of the choir to have to swat at them as they were playing and singing. But I remember one that marched along the back of the pew in front of me during what I considered a rather tedious and uninspiring sermon, giving me something fun and interesting to watch. In England these little fellows are called ladybirds. And the original nursery rhyme, dated around 1744, did call them that. There are apparently several different versions of this rhyme, too. The one I remember added the lines, "Your house is on fire, and your children will burn." What a "happy" nursery rhyme to teach a child. Probably I should have learned this version,"Your house is on fire and your children are gone,All except one, and her name is Ann, And she hid under the baking pan." There seems to be a religious connection to the ladybug(bird), too, with a connotation between ladybird and "our lady, the Mother of Jesus." For that reason some believe this verse could date back to the 16th century as a warning at a time when there was legislation against Catholics. Other lore connects it to farmers who would recite this rhyme to save the insects, who are a service to them, before setting fire to the stubble fields. Whatever the history of the verse, people usually like these little red or orange dotted shelled insects. I even remember making my younger grandchild a smocked baby garment with ladybugs on it. Although I am generally not a big fan of most insects, I have always thought ladybugs were kind of cute. And I never kill them.

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