Know Your State Insect(s)
Quick, what's the state insect of South Dakota?
If you answered "the European honey bee," you're right. The honey bee (Apis mellifera) is also the state insect of 16 other states: Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
We call "our" honey bee the European or western honey bee because it's non-native. European colonists brought it to this country in 1622 to what is now Jameston, Va. Surprisingly, however, Virginia's state insect is not the honey bee, but the tiger swallowtail butterfly (Papilio glaucus).
California, too, has a non-bee state insect, even though this little agricultural worker arrived here in 1853. The Golden State's choice? The beautiful California dogface butterfly (Zerene Eurydice), a native. California is one of 27 states heralding the butterfly as its state insect. (Not all states have state insects, and some states have more than one. See Wikipedia.)
If you visit the Bohart Museum of Entomology, UC Davis campus, at its pre-Halloween open house from 1 to 4 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 27, you'll see a wall map of the United States with a colorful image of each state insect.
The museum, home of more than seven million insect specimens, is located in 1124 Academic Surge on Crocker Lane (formerly California Drive).
Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum and professor of entomology at UC Davis, encourages all to wear Halloween costumes. Last year many wore bee and ladybug costumes. Some painted their faces with a butterfly motif.
There will be plenty to see and do. There's even a live "petting zoo" (think Madagascar hissing cockroaches, walking sticks and a rose-haired tarantula).
If you're unable to attend the open house Saturday, be aware that you can visit the Bohart Museum from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Thursday. It's closed to the public on Fridays and on major holidays. Admission? Free.
The gift shop holds assorted treasures, including t-shirts, jewelry, insect-themed candy, and posters of the California dogface butterfly and dragonflies.
A golden honey bee nectaring lavender. Seventeen states list the honey bee as their state insect. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Honey bee decorates the map of South Dakota, signifying it's the state insect. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
U.S. map at the Bohart Museum shows the states with state insects. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)