For the love of bugs…

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with insects, depending on what they are. Nowadays, I snap pictures of all kinds of insects when I come across them.  My earliest recollection of insects was before I was even in school.  My best friend lived next door and they had a huge Catalpa tree in the back yard (legend has it my Grandfather planted it, but that’s a different story).  This tree was kind of an anchor in my childhood…it was just always there, and it was a big focus of whatever we were playing in the back yard.  I don’t know if this is the case, but I only remember it blooming once.  The abundant white blooms had little purple specs on the inside.  It think it was early summer and the smell was sweet and strong…I couldn’t believe it could smell so nice.  Then, at the end of the season, the very long thin seed pods came.  My Mom called the tree a Johnnie Smoker – I imagine it had something to do with those pods.  The tree had a kind of scar on the trunk. It was spot in the bark that split open and it healed with the bark exposing a small area of smooth wood.  I know we used to draw in that spot with colored chalk.

Catalpa Tree in bloom with the pod to the left of the picture…as luck would have it, I just went to lunch with my sisters and there was a tree in bloom!

Anyway, the tree was a haven for ladybugs.  They came from a funny larvae stage creature and before that from bright orangey yellow eggs that were on the underside of the leaves.  Believe me, we knew the entire cycle.  Here, my friend and I ran the “hospital”.  This was the place for the larvae, which we referred to as “lizards” and the kind of cocoon state they would transform to on the underside of the leaf all went to become ladybugs.  The facility consisted of a jar with holes poked in the lid.  This would be filled with the tree leaves and the creatures.  I’m not sure we exactly helped the process, but this was a big part of our day during the summer.

So, Ladybugs are good.

In second grade on one of our many trips to Washington’s Crossing, I found a Click Beetle.  Now, in my small hand, this thing was huge – but I didn’t mind at the time.  I know I could not hold one now.  I was allowed to bring him home and he was aptly named “Clicky”… they do click.  One day, I took him to school in a jar for show and tell. In the jar, was a pretty large piece of tomato for him to eat and you know what – it was completely gone by lunchtime!


A bug just like Clicky….

Photo courtesy of Eric R. Eaton,

When I was in college, I developed some kind of connection to dragonflies and damsel flies.  My Mom used to tell us when we were little that they would sew your mouth shut – so not sure why I liked them.  I got a vintage dragonfly pin that I used to wear and some other decorative items over the years.
DSC_0430My early dragonfly pin, silver and abalone…it’s really quite small.

So aside from a few things, I would hardly call my insect items a collection.


A few of my insect items…hover over pictures for a description.

The bulk of my insect items belonged to my Mom, however I was fairly involved with adding to her collection.  It all started with a bug brooch she got at a flea market.  She brought it over on one of her visits and I thought it was really beautiful.


(Mom’s first bug brooch)

My Mom started scoping out bug pins in her travels.  They really don’t show up all that much, but she did find them.  During the last decade that my Mom was with us, it was getting more and more difficult to shop for her.  She was just at that point where she didn’t really need anything.  The insect pins and other related items were a good option for a unique gift for her for different occasions.

Except for the gold toned grasshopper, which was a gift to me from Jeanne, all of the pictures below are my Mom’s bug pins…



For me – I didn’t need an excuse to collect, even if it was on behalf of someone else.  I started scoping insect jewelry and other items for my Mom. These were bugs that weren’t difficult to like!  I think it was when she turned 85, I got her an antique micro mosaic insect brooch.  I wanted to get a nice display for it so I also got a little metal and glass trinket box that I thought would be a good way to display the pin.


Mosaic pin which my Mom always displayed with the little ant!

For a brief time – inspired by my Mom, I collected a few butterfly pins…


In the October 2017 post,  I mentioned my Mom’s ability to collect – when she was into something, she was very zealous about acquiring new additions.  As she received bug pins and gifts and added more from her travels, my Mom’s bug collection got very large. She put the pins in those glass topped cardboard display boxes that they use at shows so that the pins could be seen better.  My Mom also picked up more of those metal and glass trinket boxes in her travels when the price was right.

Little chirping crickets…I got these for my Mom in Manayunk – mid 1990’s.  They no longer chirp when you open the box, but I’d like to figure out how to replace the battery.  They sounded real!

Large glass tree ornament

My Mom and I had matching Cicada necklaces

When my Mom first passed away, I still kept getting things I thought she’d like – this was one of them.

The pins led to other things such as bug themed trinket boxes and glass figurine insects.

Bug boxes, paper ornaments and a little brass bug figure.


My Mom also loved little blown glass figurines of all types, so insect versions were perfect. I found an artist that creates wonderful insects with glass. I got several of these for my Mom and ended up getting two that were of interest to me. The two I got were both insects we have around the house – the praying mantis and a katydid. For my Mom, I got was a bee, a fire ant, a jewel beetle and a scary black horned beetle. We both thought these were fascinating!

Below are all examples of Wes Fleming glass bugs…

they are the size of the actual bugs and are really amazing.


Horned Beetle
Horned Beetle top view
Bee – top view
Tiny fire ant
Tiny fire ant – top view, so small to work on!!
Jewel Beetle
Amazing Katydid and Praying Mantis which I display under a dome.

When my Mom’s insect items came to me I was already challenged with space to put things.  I wanted to have the bugs out so that I could see them all the time as my Mom did.  I was able to get a large glass doored frame that was made for collecting pin back items such as political pins and it worked perfectly.  I hung this in the guest bedroom where my Mom always stayed.  It is where I keep my clothes and shoes, so I always get to see it.  Sometimes I grab a pin and wear it for the day.  I wish I looked into the frame while my Mom was still with us – I think she would have liked seeing her pins displayed in this way.


Author: Collected

Recollections and reflections on a life time of collecting.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: