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What Is a State Insect?

By Lumara Lee
Updated May 17, 2024
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Each state in the United States has adopted various symbols to represent its natural resources and cultural heritage. These symbols include flags, flowers, birds, seals, and animals. Most states have also adopted an official state insect.

In 1929, California designated the dogface butterfly as its state insect, becoming the first state to adopt an insect as an official symbol. Since then, several states have designated various butterflies and other insects as their symbols. Some states have multiple state insects and multiple categories. For example, Delaware has adopted a state butterfly, a state bug, and a state macroinvertebrate.

Delaware is the only state to have a macroinvertebrate as its symbol. The stonefly was selected to indicate Delaware’s superior water quality. Another state that has multiple insect categories is Tennessee, which has a state butterfly, two state insects, and a state agricultural insect.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Vermont, and West Virginia all have both a state butterfly and state insect. South Carolina has a state butterfly, insect, and also identified the wolf spider as the state spider. This is the largest spider in the North America, and South Carolina is the only state to have an official state spider.

The most popular state insect is the honeybee. This industrious bug was designated a state insect by the highest number of states. In addition to producing honey, honeybees play a critical role in agriculture. They are responsible for pollinating a large number of crops. Plants and humans wouldn’t be able to survive without the vital contributions of the busy honeybee.

Monarch butterflies are another popular state insect. The monarch butterfly is the official state insect of Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, and Texas, and it is the state butterfly of Minnesota, Vermont, and West Virginia. This colorful butterfly is migratory, and large numbers spend the warm months in these states and winter in Florida, Mexico, and southern Texas.

Several states have adopted the ladybug as their state bug or state insect. Having the reputation of being a friendly bug, the ladybug is a beneficial insect that eats the aphids that would otherwise destroy some crops. Other insects that have been adopted as state symbols include various types of butterflies, several different dragonflies, the preying mantis, and a wasp. Most official insect symbols were voted in by the state legislatures after lobbying by classes of schoolchildren who had studied the insects.

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