This song is about hunting for "Maybugs" (also called cockchafers). They caused great damage to crops. Children would hunt for them to play with them, but they were also hunted to be destroyed.

Il était un petit homme - French Children's Songs - France - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


According to Wikipedia cockchafers (maybugs) have been a major problem for crops in the past:

"Collecting adults was an only moderately successful method. In the Middle Ages, pest control was rare, and people had no effective means to protect their harvest. This gave rise to events that seem bizarre from a modern perspective. In 1320, for instance, cockchafers were brought to court in Avignon [France] and sentenced to withdraw within three days onto a specially designated area, otherwise they would be outlawed. Subsequently since they failed to comply, they were collected and killed. (Similar animal trials also occurred for many other animals in the Middle Ages.)

In some areas and times, cockchafers were even served as food. A 19th century recipe from France for cockchafer soup reads: 'roast one pound of cockchafers without wings and legs in sizzling butter, then cook them in a chicken soup, add some veal liver and serve with chives on a toast'. "

May bugs were also eaten in Germany.

If you're curious about how Maybug Soup was made, you can read about it on Mama Lisa's Blog.


Sheet Music

Sheet Music - Il était un petit homme

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Translation: Monique & Lisa

Illustration: Lila