This nursery rhyme is from England where it is actually sung Ladybird, Ladybird as that is the common term used for the insect. But in the United States the same insect is known as a Ladybug and therefore the song is sung as Ladybug, Ladybug.
Either way, it is the name for the insect with a red or orange shell and black spots that kids love to pick up and play with in the grass. Children often sing or recite this rhyme while playing with ladybugs or ladybirds.
The central theme of the rhyme is the ladybird’s flight away from danger, symbolized by a house on fire. There’s also the mention of “little Nan,” who stays behind to weave gold laces in some versions. The origins of this nursery rhyme are somewhat unclear, and there are variations in the wording.
One interpretation suggests that it could reference the ladybird’s habit of flying away when disturbed, which could be associated with children learning to run away from a dangerous situation.
The mention of “little Nan” weaving gold laces in the alternative version is less straightforward and may have been added for rhyme and rhythm. It doesn’t have a clear symbolic meaning like the ladybird’s flight.
Lyrics for Ladybug, Ladybug
Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home.
Your house is on fire, and your children are gone.
All except one, and her name is Anne
And she crept under the frying pan
And here is the Alternative version I wrote about earlier that mentions Nan:
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire,
Your children all gone.
Except little Nan,
Who sits in a pan,
Weaving gold laces
As fast as she can