Media: Insect Audio Recordings


Between 1954 and 1979, RDA made thousands of recordings of insects. 774 of these he deposited into what is now the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics. This institution was established by RDA’s doctoral supervisor, Ohio State University Professor of Entomology Donald J. Borror. This Laboratory, part of the Museum of Biological Diversity at OSU, is one of the most important acoustic biology repositories in the world. The collection is particularly extensive in the area close to both Borror’s and RDA’s hearts: the sounds of the singing insects. A fully referenced spreadsheet of all of RDA’s annexed bioacoustic specimens can be found here (XLSX) and here (tab-delimited TXT). To obtain digital files of these recordings, please request them from the Borror Lab.

A portion of RDA’s (and Borror’s) recordings were incorporated into commercially available phonograph records:

1956. The songs of insects. Calls of the common crickets, grasshoppers and cicadas of the eastern United States. LP Phonograph Record: 40 species, 29 min. (R.D. Alexander and D. J. Borror).
[A wonderful piece of trivia about this record is that Alexander and Borror gave coauthorship to a group simply called “six-legged musicians”. Even the Amazon listing of this record has them as an author (this is their only published work).]

1960. Sound communication in Orthoptera and Cicadidae. 5 sets of sounds on an LP phonograph record, to accompany a paper by this name in Animal Sounds and Communication (W. E.. Lanyon and W. H.. Tavolga, eds). Washington, D.C.: American Institute of Biological Sciences 7: 38-92.

[Neither of these LPs is yet available in digital form.]

RDA also made recordings of butcherbirds throughout Australia in 1968-69, which (according to White Man’s Fire) are still located at the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. He also recorded mockingbirds, as described in The Mockingbird’s River Song.

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