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) insect recordings were incorporated into a radio show and two commercially available phonograph records:

1955. Insect Sounds (29:33). A WOSU radio program from 1955, while RDA was a graduate student. Courtesy of the Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics. [mp3 (7MB)]

1956. The Songs of Insects (Calls of the Common Crickets, Grasshoppers and Cicadas of the Eastern United States). 12″ LP Phonograph Record / mono. Cornell University Records (CH1085). 40 species. (R.D. Alexander and D. J. Borror).

Side One (12:49): Katydids, Crickets, Tree Crickets  [mp3 (18.5MB), FLAC (44.5MB)]

Side Two (12:31): Long-horned Grasshopper, Cone-headed Grasshoppers, False Katydids, Bush Katydids, Meadow Grasshoppers, Small Meadow Grasshoppers, Short-Horned Grasshoppers, Cicadas  [mp3 (18MB), FLAC (41.5MB)]

From the covers: Recorded (using parabolic and funnel reflectors) by Richard D. Alexander and Donald J. Borror, Department of Zoology and Entomology, Ohio State University, with the assistance of Edwards S. Thomas, Ohio Archeological and Natural History Museum. Produced by P.P. Kellogg and A.A. Allen for the Labratory of Ornithology at Cornell University.

Associated material (jpg files):

Borror narrates. Later impressions (this LP was released several times into the 1970s) credit RDA’s affiliation as the University of Michigan. 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. [This LP has not been located.]


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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