"Cooties" used to mean lice. Nowadays in the US, "cooties" refers to an imaginary disease that a boy can give to a girl (or vice versa) by touching her. Normally one kid goes up to another kid, touches their arm and yells "You've got the cooties!" Then they run away. This song uses the earlier definition.

There are many versions of this song. In fact, sometimes the bugs in this song are roaches or mosquitoes and bedbugs.

The Cooties and the Bedbugs - American Children's Songs - The USA - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image

Notes

Cory Sesko sent the version her mother sang with the following note:

"What a surprise to find versions of this song on-line. An odd children's song to be sure.

Nevertheless imprinted on my young brain. Our mother was always humming or singing growing up. Spontaneously belting into song - especially when we kids bickered.

The version I, and my 9 siblings were taught below. An even odder version, and might be considered politically incorrect today.

🎢🎡 I was standing on a corner doing no harm.
Along came a Copper and took me by the arm.
He took me to a funny place and rang a funny bell.
Along came another and took me to my cell.
I woke up in the morning and there upon the wall,
The bed bugs and the cooties were having a game of ball.
The score was 6 to nothing.
The bedbugs were ahead. T
he cooties hit a homerun and knocked me out of bed. 🎼🎢

Thank you for posting this bit of American history.

Kind Regards,

Cory"

The Cooties and the Bedbugs - American Children's Songs - The USA - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World 1

Comments

Please email me the version of this song that you know! Thanks! Mama Lisa

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Chanted by Jason Pomerantz.

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Thanks to Cory Sesko for sending her mom's version! Thanks to Monique Palomares for the illustrations!