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"Ladybird Ladybird" (sometimes rendered as "Ladybug Ladybug", particularly in the US) is an English-language nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 16215.

"Ladybird Ladybird"
Nursery rhyme
Publishedc. 1744

The rhymeEdit

This traditional verse relates to ladybugs or ladybirds, brightly coloured insects commonly viewed as lucky. The English version has been dated to at least 1744, when it appeared in Tommy Thumb's Pretty Songbook Vol. 2.[1] The verse has several popular forms, including:

Ladybird, ladybird fly away home,
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.

A shorter, grimmer version is also widespread:

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home,
Your house is on fire,
Your children shall burn!

Ann who hides may also be Nan, Anne or Little Anne. She may have hidden under a warming pan, porridge pan, frying pan or even a pudding pan.[2] Some variants are radically different:

All except one and her name was Aileen
And she hid under a soup tureen.[3]

The 'little one' also may not be hiding at all, as in the following:

Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
Your house is on fire;
Your children all roam.
Except little Nan
Who sits in her pan
Weaving her laces as fast as she can.

And from Peterborough:

Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home, / Your horse is on foot, your children are gone;
All but one, and that's little John, / And he lies under the grindle stone.[4]

Several more variants exist, some saying "your children alone". Variants are known in the USA, some attached to Doodlebugs.[5]

From Favorite Poems Old and New, Selected for boys and girls by Helen Ferris (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[6]

From Nancy Drew: Ghost of Thornton Hall:

Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone,
All except one,
Sweet Charlotte Ann,
And she hid under the frying pan.

Cultural referencesEdit

  • At the outset of Chapter 14 of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain writes: "A brown spotted lady-bug climbed the dizzy heights of a grass blade, and Tom bent down close to it and said: 'Lady-bug, lady-bug, fly away home, Your house is on fire, your children's alone'..." [7]
  • The rhyme is alluded to in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse (1910).
  • The rhyme's title was used for a 1994 drama-documentary, Ladybird Ladybird, by Ken Loach about a British woman's dispute with Social Services over the care and custody of her four children.
  • The lines "Hey little bird, fly away home, your house is on fire, your children are alone" are used by Tom Waits in the song "Jockey Full of Bourbon" on the 1985 album Rain Dogs.
  • The line "Your house is on fire" is quoted in the chorus of the Tears For Fears song "Ladybird" from their 2004 album, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending.
  • The lines "Lady bug, lady bug, fly away home. Your house is on fire, and your children, They will burn, they will burn." are used by Peter, Paul and Mary in the song "It's Raining" from the 1962 album Peter, Paul and Mary.
  • Ladybug Ladybug is a 1963 film about the evacuation of a rural elementary school following a (mistaken) alert of an imminent nuclear attack.
  • The line "Your house is on fire, your children are gone" is quoted by American poet Lisel Mueller in the eponymous poem of her volume The Private Life, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge (1976), p. 44
  • Fly Away Home is a 1996 film about a young girl who, with her father, leads a flock of Canada geese to a wildlife refuge.
  • The rhyme is referred to in the 2011 British horror film The Awakening.
  • It appears in Chapter 8 of the Czech classic The Grandmother (Babička). "Adelka placed the lady-bird on her open palm and raised her hand high, chanting: 'Lady-bird, lady-bird, fly away home-' 'Your house is on fire, and your children are gone!' completed Willie."
  • Your House is on Fire, Your Children all Gone' by Stefan Kiesbye takes its name from this rhyme.
  • A variant of the song is sung by Charlotte's ghost in the Nancy Drew game from her interactive The Ghost of Thornton Hall ("Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home/ your house is on fire and your children are gone/all except one/sweet Charlotte Ann/ and she hid under the frying pan").
  • An excerpt of this rhyme is found on the back doorstep of the printshop in Philadelphia in 1778 at the close of Chapter 111 / Part 7 of Diana Gabaldon's Written in My Own Heart's Blood (published June 10, 2014). It is interpreted as a threat on the inhabitants and their children, as declared seditionists in the American Revolution.
  • The poem appears in Hawaii Five-O, Season 6, Episode 2, "Lehu a Lehu" ("Ashes to Ashes").
  • Combat! Season 3, Episode 6 is titled "Fly Away Home". It features the squad escorting a Carrier Pigeon Company.
  • A variant of the poem is used in Chapter 44 of Rainbow Rowell's novel Carry On (2015) as a spell.
  • In Chapter 39 of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl writes: "The Ladybug, who had been haunted all her life by the fear that her house was on fire and her children all gone, married the Head of the Fire Department and lived happily ever after." [8]
  • In the 2011 film Fly Away, single mother Jeanne sings "Ladybug, Ladybug" to calm her severely autistic daughter, Mandy.
  • The rhyme is referred to in an episode of "All in the family"
  • In the song "Ladybug Picnic" on Elizabeth Mitchell's You Are My Sunshine album, she sings the line, "They talked about the high price of furniture and rugs and fire insurance for ladybugs."
  • In Rainbow Rowell’s book "Carry On", Baz sings the rhyme to get rid of a dragon
  • The rhyme inspired the title of the 2017 film Lady Bird.


  1. ^ I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn, 1997), p. 263.
  2. ^ "The Real Mother Goose - Pages 82 hrough 104". Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  3. ^ "". Idabc. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Folklore". Antlion Pit. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  6. ^ Helen Ferris, Favorite Poems Old and New, Selected for boys and girls (Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1957.
  7. ^ Mark Twain. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876, 1978 Octopus Publishing reprint), p. 82.
  8. ^ Roald Dahl. James and the Giant Peach (1961, 1980 Bantam-Skylark printing), p. 152.