Whilst plenty of people aren’t bothered about bugs, to lots of us creepy crawlies aren’t usually a welcome sight. Spiders, wasps, mosquitos… there’s plenty of bugs that most people just aren’t chill with – some even have a bone to pick with butterflies. Despite this, lots of musicians have used bugs as inspiration in their work, with artists like Pearl Jam, Owl City and Miley Cyrus all having big successes with bug-themed music.
If you’re wondering how your new favourite song could possibly be about a creepy crawly, allow us to walk you through our list of bug-themed tunes. Here are 21 of the best songs about bugs out there.
Top Songs About Bugs
“Spiders” – Bear’s Den
Much of Bear’s Den’s Blue Hours explores mental health, particularly the fears that come to us in the middle of the night. Spiders are one of the most common phobias in the world, making them a great representation of these dark, anxiety-inducing thoughts. “It’s four in the morning and the spiders are crawling,” sings Andrew Davie. He’s trying to pull himself out of the darkness that he spirals into, but the spiders are good at weaving webs he gets stuck in.
“Bugs” – Pearl Jam
‘Bugs’ remains one of Pearl Jam’s most divisive songs. A complete departure from the band’s usual sound, the track features a chaotic instrumental built around an accordion that Eddie Vedder picked up at a thrift shop and just about figured out how to play. He gives a stream of consciousness about bugs – they’re in his room, his head, his ears, his shoes and just about everything else.
Vedder explained to Spin that the album opener was born out of a confidence that the band’s audience would be open to anything that was thrown at them. He started playing the track to friends claiming that it was the best thing the band had ever done, just to see their reaction.
“butterfly” – Sody
Sody sings about one of the world’s most popular bugs in this uplifting indie pop track. “You remind me how real growth takes time,” she tells the butterfly. Although everything is changing in Sody’s life, she finds inspiration in the way that the butterfly manages to trust that it will become what it’s meant to be. She decides to adopt that same principle into her own life and trust that she’ll blossom from her cocoon when the time is right.
“Boys Will Be Bugs” – Cavetown
Cavetown sings about being a “dumb teen boy” in this sweet, low-fi track. He describes a boy growing up in school with questions about what the world is like for girls, and making the decision that “this year, I’m going to be mean.” He becomes violent, defensive and cold to his friends, but he does make some unusual friends in the form of bugs. The song uses the bugs to illustrate how young teenage boys tend to go through a stage when they’re equally vulnerable and unpleasant – just like bugs.
“Butterfly Fly Away” – Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray Cyrus
In ‘Butterfly Fly Away’, Miley Cyrus sings about growing up and finding her own place in the world outside of her family home. The emotional track sees her recognising the sacrifices her parents made to give her a stable, loving home to grow up in and the independent spirit they encouraged in her.
She’s joined by the voice of her father Billy Ray Cyrus, who sings encouragement for her to flap her wings and fly out into the world. The track was featured in Hannah Montana: The Movie and is considered a standout moment in the film.
“Fireflies” – Owl City
Owl City’s fan favourite track about bright little bugs tells the sweet story of an unlikely friendship. Singer Adam Young finds himself stumbling across ten million fireflies and getting a dancing lesson from them before they fly away for good. Still, Young keeps a few in a jar so that he doesn’t lose them entirely.
The song paints quite a fantastical picture. It was actually inspired by Young’s insomnia – Young was keen to find the positives in his inability to get to sleep. He uses the fireflies as a metaphor for the inspiration that often strikes when he finds himself awake late at night.
‘Ladybird’ – NewDad
Irish band NewDad lament a long distance relationship in ‘Ladybird’, which sees them struggling to hold onto the romance like struggling to keep a ladybird in your hand. “This isn’t how I thought it would be,” they sing sadly, as they wonder what their partner is up to and ask them to stay on the phone just a little longer.
“Mosquito” – Stella Donnelly
Donnelly names this track after one of the world’s most widely hated insects, but she doesn’t seem to be disgusted by it. “I’m so attracted to ya,” she sings. “A malaria mosquito, buzzing in the shadow.” Everyone has a type, but mosquitos are definitely a rogue choice. Donnelly has called the track “probably the only love song I’ll ever write.” Due to a line about her vibrator, she often finds herself apologising to her mum when she plays it live.
“Little Moth” – chloe moriondo
This ukulele-driven track comes from Moriondo’s self-produced debut album, Rabbit Hearted. Moriondo personifies the moth buzzing around her room, comparing it to a person who has newly entered her life. The two of them struggle to understand each other, but Moriondo thinks they both want to try.
Moriondo has since tweeted that this song was written for her fans, who virtually enter her bedroom to learn about her when she posts videos. She doesn’t understand why they’re there, but she’s grateful to them and wants to give them good advice.
“Slug” – Snail Mail
Snail Mail wonder if the slug in their garden wants to live like they do, or if it’s happy just existing in the shade. As they wonder, they realise that they understand the temptation to hide away from the sunlight under the rocks. But ultimately, it isn’t how they want to live life. “In moss covered springs you’ll never find anything, so what’s the use in hiding underneath our feet?” they conclude.
“Waiting For The Worms” – Pink Floyd
This Pink Floyd track has a very dark meaning. It references the Holocaust, one of the most egregious tragedies in human history, in several explicit and upsetting lyrics. The marching beat of the song and the muffled loudspeaker effect creates an immersive effect, trying to place the listener in the minds of those suffering through these atrocities.
“Cicadas” – Little May
Indie duo Little May use autumnal cicadas to invoke a feeling of nostalgia. They reference returning to where they previously found the bugs, hoping to meet someone from their past, who they suspect is hiding from them. “Why are you on my mind again?” they ask them.
As the track continues, it becomes clear that they are still thinking about this person because they are most likely still in love with them, even after three years of seperation. “I don’t ever want to leave your side,” concludes the song’s final line.
“Bumblebee” – ABBA
This track from ABBA’s reunion album, Voyage, sees the group meditating on the endangerment of bumblebees and trying to imagine what their garden would be like without the bumbling bugs. “A world without him – I dread to think what that would be,” they sing.
The group reflect on how the world, climate and culture is changing too fast for bumblebees – and them – to adapt, and what a scary thing that is. They choose to be grateful for the fact that for now, they’re able to sit in the garden and “listen to the human of bumblebees”, but there’s still some sadness for future generations who might not ever know what that sounds like.
“Honeybee” – The Head And The Heart
Indie folk band The Head And The Heart use the insect as a term of endearment for a loved one that they’ve overcome many obstacles. This sweet love song gives thanks for the life that they’ve built together, the family that they’ve grown and the years that they’ve stuck by each other’s sides. “Take a look at what we’ve made,” they sing with great emotion.
“Insect Eyes” – Devendra Banhart
Folk singer Banhart describes his lover in a very unorthodox way in this slightly off-kilter love song. The object of his affections fades into the earth as he rewrites her biology – “And each strange of her hair is really insect eyes,” he sings. “And each lash in her eye is really white roots.” It’s clear above all that he considers this woman to be everything he needs to sustain him.
“Insect Hospital” – They Might Be Giants
“Walking down to the insect hospital to set the insects free,” sing They Might Be Giants cheerfully in the first verse of ‘Insect Hospital’. That’s pretty much all of the lyrics in this brief, happy tune – They Might Be Giants are totally chill with bugs, and just want to see them roam free.
The music video for the song is also bug-themed, with particular focus on ticks, the namesake of another track on the same record. This unusual song appears on the band’s 2013 album, Nanobots.
“Flies” – Aubrey Key
Key describes innocuous scenes from his life, with little flies cropping up throughout – on his leg, on his heart, in his car. Key continues to find these little flies everywhere, an appropriate image for a song about a monotonous, mundane existence. Key looks for meaning in it all, but the flies are the only thing that continue to stand out to him.
“Queen Of The Bees” – Jack White
White uses bugs to compare himself to a girl he feels is way out of his league. Whilst he feels like he’s a mess and he’s dependent on her, she seems far more together and independent. “I’m a fly on the wall and you’re the queen of the bees,” sings White.
He’s just a hanger on, and she’s the centre of the universe. However, by making them both insects, White also seems to suggest that the two of them belong in each other’s world. White’s dramatic, theatrical vocal performance makes this gently swung track a joy to listen to.
Ex-leader of the White Stripes, Jack White has since put out five solo studio albums. ‘Queen Of The Bees’ comes from 2022’s Entering Heaven Alive, which White released just three months after his previous full-length record, Fear Of The Dawn.
“Butterflies” – Kacey Musgraves
One week after meeting her future husband, Musgraves wrote this joyful love song. They say when you know you know, and Musgraves certainly knew as soon as she met the person she was meant to be with. “Now I remember what it feels like to fly,” she sings. “You give me butterflies.”
Musgraves gained more than a happy marriage with ‘Butterflies’ – she won a Grammy for Best Country Solo Performance. The album ‘Butterflies’ was released on, Golden Hour, also won Best Country Album and Album Of The Year.
“Fly On Your Wall” – Angel Olsen
Soulful singer Angel Olsen recalls being along for the ride as a man from her past swept her up in a powerful love. She always felt on the edges of his world, comparing herself to a fly on his wall. Although she struggles to understand how she feels about the relationship now, she accepts that she can’t take any of it back, coming to the conclusion that, “A love never made is still mine.”
“Bug Bites” – Del Water Gap
Singer S. Holden Jaffe reminds the person listening that they’re living the kind of chaotic life he is. “Every single bug bite on your wrist, visible reminders, you’ve become an island just like me,” he sings. He knows that they’ll probably stay in a state of limbo forever, itching away like a bug bite.
People have conflicting feelings when it comes to bugs. Whilst many artists on this list use bugs to represent feelings of discomfort and unease, many also derive comfort from certain insects and use them as positive images that represent forces for good in their lives. However you feel about bugs, there’s a song on this list for you.
Caitlin Devlin is a music, entertainment and lifestyle writer based in London. When she’s not creating playlists for Repeat Replay, she’s reviewing gigs and interviewing artists for Ticketmaster UK and thinking about what her Spotify Wrapped will look like this year.