Ladybug! Ladybug! fly away home,
Your house is on fire, your children alone,
Excepting the youngest, and her name is Ann,
And she has crept under the drippings pan.

There’s no question a ladybug will fly away home when you chant that rhyme. If you watch where it goes, you’ll see the direction from which your true will arrive. If a ladybug lands on your hands, you’ll receive new gloves. If on your dress, a new frock.


It was once forbidden to kill ladybugs for fear of misfortune. Among the unlucky things that would happen, of course, is that you’d lose one of the best friends a gardener can have. They are especially enthusiastic aphid gourmets and thus maintain the balance. Aphids are carefully herded by ants, who I’d venture are more conscientious farmers than many humans (certainly than agribiz-ers). The roses and peonies on which the aphids graze return each year in full health, whereas we’ve rendered countless acres hardpacked and infertile. When the aphids are too many for the ladybugs to handle, it’s easy enough to spray them off with a hose. It takes them a day or two to find their way back, or to be rounded up like dogies by the ants.

Ladybugs adore tansy. Who doesn’t? Tansy’s scent is magnificent. Grown next to roses, tansy, also called Yellow Button for its flowers, makes good companion-planting sense (as do garlic and onion near roses).

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A German recipe book calls for minced tansy leaves on pancakes or waffles. An infusion of tansy flowers is known to expel worms — in you, your pet, or your livestock — and it is also used as a moth repellent. Placed around the house, it will discourage flies and other insects. A bit of tansy in your shoe will prevent or cure persistent fevers.

Married couples anxious to start a family should toss a little tansy into their salads. Yet in some places it’s thought that chewing on tansy leaves will induce miscarriage.

Tansy was given to the divine Trojan hero Ganymede to make him immortal when he was abducted by Zeus to serve as cup bearer on Olympus, where the beautiful boy was granted eternal youth and immortality. Thus some folk carry tansy in their pockets or lockets to lengthen their life spans.

Ganymede about to be abducted -- Roman-era relief

Ganymede about to be abducted — Roman-era relief