Ladybird, Ladybug – Farmville | Farmville

A I left my house a few weeks ago on a warm Indian summer day. A ladybug landed on my glasses. I waved a quick wave of my hand, but she refused to move. I had to take off my glasses and nudge them with a little more determination before she agreed to fly away.

The episode reminded me of a verse I learned by heart in my childhood:

Ladybug, ladybug, fly home.

Your house is on fire and your children will burn.

The feeling seemed pretty macabre, especially for such happy looking creatures, so I decided to investigate its origin and meaning. According to Wikipedia, the original English version of the poem was included in “Tommy Thumb’s Pretty SongBook,” published in 1744. The common name for the insect in England is ladybug, and the poem read as follows:

Ladybug, ladybug flies home

Your house is on fire and your children are gone

All but one and her name is Ann

And she hid under the baking pan.

Apparently the intention was not an expression of malice but a warning and a desire to save the insects. One account says that farmers who had to burn the stubble in their fields recited the verse to encourage ladybugs to fly to safety and join their children who had already crawled away.

Other ladybug lore suggest that many cultures associate insects with happiness. The Turkish name apparently means “lucky bug” and is associated with making and fulfilling wishes in several places. The fact that a ladybug lands on an item of clothing is said to predict the arrival of new clothes. Perhaps coincidentally, I had an eye exam shortly after my ladybug encounter and my new glasses should now be ready every day.

The “lady” part of the name is associated with the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, who is referred to as “Our Lady” in some churches. Several reports suggest that the red color symbolizes Mary and the spots represent her worries. Other stories tell that medieval farmers prayed against aphids, scale insects, and other agricultural pests. In response, Mary sent the ladybugs to avert disaster.

According to the University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, a single ladybug can eat up to 5,000 aphids in its lifetime. Ladybugs aren’t real bugs, however. From a scientific point of view, ladybugs are beetles. As a result, entomologists prefer to call them ladybugs or ladybugs.

Whatever you call them, there are many types with different numbers of spots and a range of colors including red, orange, pink, and yellow. With the exception of a few yellow family members who eat plants instead of pests, ladybugs are beneficial in gardens, fields, and wooded areas.

An Asian variety, also called the harlequin ladybug or the Asian ladybug, was originally imported to control pests that attack apples and pecans. Their population may have increased as additional beetles hitchhiked on transoceanic cargo shipments. This species can be distinguished from other cultivars by an M- or W-shaped spot just behind the head. Although they still eat agricultural pests, the Asian ladybug has become an invasive pest that overwhelms native species.

Asian ladybugs are also the ones most likely to try to come in when the fall days get cooler. They do not multiply indoors like other household pests. They do not eat wood or food. They don’t chew holes in clothing or other fabrics. They are not linked to the spread of disease, but the Asian variant can make asthma and allergies worse in some people. They can even bite.

I had a nibble on my arm. It felt like a little pinch. My instinctive response was to hit it. Fortunately for the insect and for me, it escaped. Folklore says that killing a ladybug is bad luck. Science says they can secrete a defense fluid that stinks and stains.

As the preferred disposal method, experts recommend vacuuming ladybugs and putting them outdoors. I also recommend a stern admonition:

Ladybugs, ladybugs, fly home!

This is my house. Go find your own.

KAREN BELLENIR has been writing for The Farmville Herald since 2009. Her book Happy to Be Here: A Transplant Takes Root in Farmville, Virginia contains a compilation of her columns. It is available from You can contact Karen at [email protected]

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