Quiz: Do you know your state insect?
There are nearly 10 quintillion insects alive on Earth at any given time. Often only paid attention to while being swatted away in annoyance, insects are among the least noticeable facets of everyday life despite having long played a central role in society. Mosquitoes, for example, have arguably altered human history by introducing yellow fever and malaria to various societies, which changed the dynamics of wars, colonization, politics, and entire economies.
Today, however, insect populations are rapidly decreasing from a slew of threats. Approximately 41% of bug species are facing immediate extinction, declining by around 2.5% each year due primarily to habitat loss and pesticide use. Light pollution—in which insects are attracted to incandescent lightbulbs and die when they get too close to the heat radiated off of them—is also a risk for many insects, particularly nocturnal bugs.
A significant decrease in the number of insects on Earth will have cascading effects across the globe, as these bugs play crucial roles in biodiversity and agriculture. Without insects pollinating flowers, breaking down waste, and serving as a food source for bigger predators, crops will fail, having devastating effects on economies, health, and geopolitics across all continents.
The good news? Everyday citizens can do a lot to reverse the threats to insects. Options include mowing one’s lawn less; allowing oft-pollinated plants to grow; and using fewer pesticides.
Conserving these species starts with learning more about them, and that’s where we are here to help. Stacker has used a variety of sources to compile a gallery of the official state insect(s) of each U.S. state, as well as their unique characteristics. Some insects appear often on the list, like the European honey bee—the state insect of 17 states—and the Monarch butterfly, the state insect or butterfly of seven states. Some states have several mascots, like the four state insects of Tennessee. And some—namely, Iowa and Michigan—have no state insect at all.
Read on to see if you can guess which insect(s) represent your state.
- State insect: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)
This insect lives close to ponds and slow-flowing rivers, feeding on mosquitoes and gnats. Its wings are brown, with four spots.
- State insect: Four-spotted skimmer dragonfly (Libellula quadrimaculata)
- State butterfly: Two-tailed swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)
State insect: This species was one of the first domesticated insects in history. It now has populations on every continent except Antarctica, thanks to humans making use of its pollination work.
State butterfly: While males of this species are orange. Females are dark blue and larger than males. This insect is unique for its practice of laying eggs around the base of its host plant, rather than directly on the plant itself.
- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Diana fritillary butterfly (Speyeria diana)
This species is endemic to California. It is named for the pattern on its blue, orange, or yellow wings, each of which appears to vaguely resemble the profile of a poodle.
- State butterfly: California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice)
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