Happy In(sect) dependence Day!



3 comments
Nothing says 'American work ethic' like Apis mellifera.  It's from Europe.
Break out the fireworks, flags, and apple pie.  It's July 4th!  Many of us will celebrate our independence from tyranny at picnics; a great opportunity to appreciate some of our 6-legged compatriots!  Would we have ever thought up polka-dots without the iconic 7-spot ladybeetles?  What could be more American than a honeybee?

The answer is: just about anything could.  Both of these species are natives to Europe (incidentally, so are polka-dots).  They are as American as mushy peas and red phone booths.  So if we are so keen on giving king George III the heave-ho, why did we then go and pick European insects to represent our states?

States that designate the "European Honeybee" as their state insect:

Arkansas
North Carolina
New Jersey
Georgia
Maine
Nebraska
Kansas
Louisiana
Vermont
Wisconsin
South Dakota
Mississippi
Utah
Missouri
Tennessee
Oklahoma
West Virginia

Cocinella septempunctata
States that designate the European 'Seven-spot ladybeetle' as their state insect:

Delaware
Massachusetts
New Hampshire
Ohio
Tennessee

With 91,000 named insect species in the United States, I think we could probably find one cool enough without having to borrow from another continent.  Maybe we just miss being colonies.  What do you think?

Thanks to this discussion over at the Entomological Society of Canada blog for reminding me about this entomological pet peeve of mine.

3 comments:

Morgan Jackson at: July 4, 2012 at 12:50 PM said...

Good stuff! I've always enjoyed the irony of states so readily adopting these "foreigners" as their state insects, especially the 7-spot! Why was that chosen so frequently to begin with over any of the native species? Bizarre!

HomeBugGardener at: July 6, 2012 at 12:15 AM said...

All of the people that live in the United States, Native Americans included, migrated there some time in the last 15,000 (or maybe 30,000) years. I think I detect a bit of nativism in your pet peeve. I, for one, am happy enough to find that they are choosing state insects. I don't find the preference for useful immigrant insects more than mildly annoying and that's mostly for picking the same ones over and over.

sc at: July 7, 2012 at 2:14 AM said...

PA state insect is the firefly.

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