Tom Turpin
Professor of
Purdue University







Insects Infest Upscale Catalog Offerings

There are times when upscale catalogs are thicker in our mailbox than fleas on a skinny hound dog. Gone are the days when one catalog offered everything from underwear to automobiles. The thick tome of the days of Sears and Roebuck has been replaced.

Nineties' catalogs are specialty books—not just clothing but natural fiber clothing! Not furniture, but wicker furniture! You name it, and there's bound to be a catalog for it.

I don't order anything from these catalogs, but I do look through them, all the while wondering, “Who would buy such a thing?” I have happened to notice that there are a fair number of insect things creeping into these high-falutin' sales rags.

It is probably not surprising that the National Wildlife Federation would include some insect offerings in its “sharing nature” catalog. There was a ladybug lamp. Use it as a nightlight or accent lamp.

Butterflies are big with the wildlife folks. There was a butterfly garden pullover, with the butterflies identified. Also, an abalone shell butterfly watchband. Need candle holders? How about dragonfly wall sconces that provide elegant lighting with the candles held in place by the curled abdomen of the dragonflies?

The J. Jill slick-pager offered decorative cast masonry tiles featuring a moth, grasshopper or dragonfly. Bees, dragonflies and ladybugs showed up in lightweight hairpins. Then, there was the insect hook rack. Not a place to hook insects, but where insects shaped as hooks hold things like car keys and garden tools, while the owner worked in the garden. Handmade by Amish craftsmen according to the advertisement.

Garnet Hill offered butterfly bedding stuff. Sheets, pillowcases and comforter covers. Doesn't go with your bedroom decor? How about a green “bugs bed?” Those bed and butterfly covers would give real meaning to the saying about not letting the bed bugs bite. Need a rug for your insect decorating? Garnet Hill has the ticket. A butterflies round rug, hand-hooked in pure wool, ought to fill the bill.

Even the matron of mauve, Martha Stewart, has discovered insects. Not in her home as pests, we trust, but as items sold in her Martha by Mail catalog. 

Martha says decorate your kid in a crepe-paper monarch butterfly—they were even featured in “Martha Stewart Living.” Speaking of decorating, use wood dragonflies, bees and butterflies, all mounted atop wood rods with a spring so they flutter, to add a little something to your decor.

The really domestic among us will no doubt want to make soap with assorted butterflies embedded inside. The soap will go with the butterfly mobile that you also have to make. Hey, you can do it. It's for ages 7 and up! Want to bake instead? How about making some cookies using Martha's butterfly cookie cutters? You can set them on a platter right next to the bee hive honey pot.

Nothing out of place at Martha's house, not even pictures. So, hang them up using a butterfly picture hanger. Martha saw it at an antiques fair, so now you can buy a reproduction, through her catalog, of course. Got a bulletin board? Keep things in place using butterfly pushpins.

Even the Martha by Mail registered trademark is insect related. It is a bee skep and a bee. Martha isn't the first person to adopt an insect as a symbol.  Napoleon also had the bee as his symbol.  But I don't believe he had a catalog! 


Writer: Tom Turpin
Editor: Olivia Maddox