Insect Cover Art
|Additional Insect Information
Types of Insects
When you talk about rock and roll music, insects are usually not a big conversation starter.
The journal American Entomologist bucked that trend and recently published a study on the scope and social meaning of using insects as cover art for rock music.
In brief, the author, a biologist with an interest in cultural entomology, tells us that the history of rock and roll music cover art tells us that the rock and roll generation likes butterflies and dragonflies and they have a negative attitude about horseflies and deer flies.
While the meaning of rock and roll insect art may be intuitively obvious, the method used to reach those conclusions deserves some attention. The article Insects in Rock and Roll Cover Art generally examines music industry attitudes about insects in the context of a growing interest in the use of insect imagery in society.
In terms of scope, the use of insects as a theme in music cover art is small. In a semi-extensive search of the rock music genre between 1955 and 2004, the author was able to document 392 instances (out of a 500,000 universe) where insects where a theme on the cover art. The top five (out of 16) insect orders represented on cover art were:
- Lepidoptera 36% (butterflies and moths)
- Hymenoptera 17% (bees, ants, wasps)
- Coleoptera 11% (beetles)
- Diptera 9% (flies)
- Odonata 8% (dragonflies)
With butterflies and dragonflies rounding out the top and the bottom of the list, it is safe to conclude that the aesthetic appeal of these two insect orders is the dominant factor influencing industry decisions about insect cover art. The author also fined some additional interesting themes running through different sets of covers. He links social attitudes related to insects as pests or predators to almost all the cover art that includes members of the Diptera order.
The article also provides an appendix of all the albums included in the study. As you browse through the list, you are bound to find at least one or two familiar titles that will lead you to reflect on insects the next time you pick them up.
One weakness of the presentation is the lack of cover art available for examination. The author provides dead links to photo galleries with scans of the cover art he has collected.
© 2007. Patricia A. Michaels.