Tom Turpin
Professor of
Purdue University







Take Two Bugs And Call Me In The Morning

I can think of no item of apparel as useless as a necktie. How dumb does a person have to be to loop a piece of cloth around their neck and tie it in a knot? Of course, we do lots of dumb things in the name of fashion, and wearing a tie is just one of them. There are, however, a few people who benefit from this apparently insane habit - tie designers and manufacturers and clothiers for example.

Ties also provide a source of gifts for those who think a tie is just what every man desires as a present on some special occasion. At least size is not a problem when a tie is the gift and, as gifts go, ties are easy to wrap.

These non-functional hunks of cloth do provide a wonderful opportunity for the wearer to make a statement. That statement might be dictated by the business world. For instance, red ties are considered power ties. Blue striped ties are traditional and broadcast the stability of the wearer. Tie motifs can represent schools or geographical regions. Some ties represent occupations, such as those displaying airplane or auto designs. Other motifs, like golf clubs or fishing lures, are suggestive of hobbies.

There are also creature ties. Almost any animal on the surface of the earth has shown up in a tie motif, including insects. All kinds of insects have graced ties over the years. I have several insect ties. Some were gifts; some I actually purchased myself. It seems that anyone who studies insects ought to have an insect tie or two.

Butterflies seem to be the most common insect to appear on ties. Some butterfly ties are quite gaudy, with big, bright-colored butterflies. Other butterfly ties are more sedate, with smaller butterflies gracing the tie in repeating patterns. In fact, you have to look closely to notice that the design is actually an insect. I have such a tie with a red background. A power tie? Maybe, but a butterfly would seem to project too fragile an image for the power monger.

I have a butterfly tie that was specially designed and given to me as a gift by friends. I also have an M.C. Escher tie that is typical Escher design in that it features a repeating motif - in this case moths. I have the reddish version, but blue and purple versions also exist.

Some insect ties feature bees and wasps. These stingers should be on power ties. After all, even Napoleon recognized the bee's industry and sting, choosing it as the symbol of his reign. Mostly, bees seem to show up on blue ties. While I can appreciate the traditional aspect of the blue color, it would seem that a few bees on a red tie would really send a message.

Beetles also appear on ties, especially ladybugs. One of my ladybug ties features blue insects on a yellow background. I've never seen a blue ladybug in my life, but the tie is rather attractive.

There are ties with ants. I have a tie with black ants walking over a red-and-white-checked tablecloth material. I don't know what this says about me, but when I wear it even strangers are motivated to comment. They say things like "Nice tie!” or "Where did you get that tie?” I take those comments as compliments.

Almost all kinds of insects have been included in tie designs. Makes sense. If you have to wear a tie, you might as well wear one that really bugs you!


Writer: Tom Turpin
Editor: Andrea McCann