Quiz: Do you know your state insect?

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December 16, 2019
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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.

Clue: Alabama

This species is one of the most recognizable of its kind, with black, orange, and white-patterned wings. It is so iconic that it has been bred on the International Space Station.

Answer: Alabama

- State insect: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Clue: Alaska

This insect lives close to ponds and slow-flowing rivers, feeding on mosquitoes and gnats. Its wings are brown, with four spots.

Answer: Alaska

- State insect: Four-spotted skimmer dragonfly (Libellula quadrimaculata)

Clue: Arizona

This insect has yellow wings with black stripes and makes it homes near streams and other moist areas. It has an array of host plants, including the Arizona rosewood, Arizona sycamore, and California hoptree.

Answer: Arizona

- State butterfly: Two-tailed swallowtail (Papilio multicaudata)

Clue: Arkansas

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.

Answer: Arkansas

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Diana fritillary butterfly (Speyeria diana)

Clue: California

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.

Answer: California

- State butterfly: California dogface butterfly (Zerene eurydice)

Clue: Colorado

This insect can be identified by its dark purple wings, dotted with orange spots along the edges. It uses the Gambel oak as both a habitat and food source, laying eggs on the tree’s leaves and feeding on its leaves and sap later in life.

Answer: Colorado

- State insect: Colorado hairstreak butterfly (Hypaurotis crysalus)

Clue: Connecticut

This species is famous for sometimes practicing sexual cannibalism, in which females eat their mates after copulation. Additionally, this insect is a carnivorous ambush predator, which abruptly grabs nearby prey with its legs.

Answer: Connecticut

- State insect: European mantis (Mantis religiosa)

Clue: Delaware

State insect: This species uses its iconic black-spotted red wings to deter predators. Its other defense mechanisms include secreting a nasty-tasting fluid from its legs and playing dead.

State butterfly: This insect can be found flying above tree canopies, at a distinctively high flight level. Both males and females have yellow and black wings, with the males displaying black ‘tiger stripes.’

Answer: Delaware

- State insect: Seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata)
- State butterfly: Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Clue: Florida

This species is known for its strong social bonds: adults huddle together at night in groups up to 60 to protect themselves from predators, returning to the same community each night. Additionally, during mating, males deposit spermatophore on females, one goal of which is to protect the female and future offspring from predators.

Answer: Florida

- State butterfly: Zebra longwing (Heliconius charitonius)

Clue: Georgia

State insect: This species is found around the globe, making it the most important agricultural pollinator in the world. It is known for its complex communication methods, including through pheromones.

State butterfly: This insect can be seen between the spring and fall, found in areas with deciduous forests. These habitats include forests, rivers, roadsides, gardens, and urban parks.

Answer: Georgia

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Clue: Hawaii

This species, which is endemic to Hawaii, feeds on the sap of koa trees. It was named Hawaii’s state insect in 2009 after members of the fifth grade at Pearl Ridge Elementary School campaigned on its behalf.

Answer: Hawaii

- State insect: Kamehameha butterfly (Vanessa tameamea)

Clue: Idaho

This species is one of the most familiar and easily recognizable of its kind in North America. Their popularity is so large that humans are increasingly breeding populations in captivity.

Answer: Idaho

- State insect: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Clue: Illinois

This species has an expansive travel pattern, migrating north and south each year. It is often mistaken for the viceroy species, though it is much larger.

Answer: Illinois

- State insect: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Clue: Indiana

This species uses bioluminescence to produce light from its lower organs, which is used to warn predators to stay away. It is about the length of a paperclip.

Answer: Indiana

- State insect: Say's firefly (Pyractomena angulata)

Clue: Iowa

Though Iowa has no official state insect, it is home to at least hundreds of different species of insects, many of whose pollination patterns aid agriculture across the state. Some species—notably, the black cutworm moth—have begun emerging earlier in the season than usual, and can damage crop yields.

Answer: Iowa

- State insect: None

[Pictured: Des Moines, Iowa from space.]

Clue: Kansas

Uniquely, this species lives in colonies that remain the same for years on end, displaying particularly well-developed social organization. Many members of the colonies produce wax that they then use to build, clean, and guard their habitat.

Answer: Kansas

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: Kentucky

Adults of this species are diurnal, meaning that they are active and flying during the late morning and early afternoon. They also exhibit geographic color polymorphism, in which they have different colors depending on what regions they occupy.

Answer: Kentucky

- State insect: Viceroy butterfly (Limenitis archippus)

Clue: Louisiana

Karl von Frisch won the 1973 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for studying the communication methods of this species. This insect reproduces its habitat through swarming, in which it takes advantage of higher volumes of nectar and pollen from flowers in the spring and early summer to help it rapidly grows its population.

Answer: Louisiana

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: Maine

This species has been studied closely by scientists, providing insights into social evolution, learning, and memory. It has adapted to its environment as it has spread across the globe, including forming winter clusters in cold climates and foraging more intensely in desert environments.

Answer: Maine

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: Maryland

This insect was named for the first Lord Baltimore, as its natural colors mirror those in the Baltimore family crest. Today, its population has diminished greatly, and it is on the Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ rare, threatened, and endangered species list.

Answer: Maryland

- State insect: Baltimore checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas phaeton)

Clue: Massachusetts

This insect is widespread throughout the U.S. and U.K., where it now has to compete with the harlequin ladybird for food. The species’ distinctive color and spots can indicate its level of poison to predators.

Answer: Massachusetts

- State insect: Seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata)

Clue: Michigan

Michigan has no state insect. It hosts several species to choose from in the future, however, including well over 20 different types of moths and a variety of spiders, beetles, butterflies, and bees.

Answer: Michigan

- State insect: None.

[Pictured: Michigan, the Great Lakes, and surrounding terrain from space.]

Clue: Minnesota

During courtship, the male of this species chases down and tackles the female, remaining attached to her for up to an hour while mating. Females will later lay eggs on milkweed leaves, which provide important protection from predators.

Answer: Minnesota

- State insect: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Clue: Mississippi

State insect: When the young females of this species are about to enter adulthood, they battle each other until there is only one survivor, who then becomes the queen of her population. Though it is a popular belief that this insect dies after stinging a threat, this is often only true when mammals are stung.

State butterfly: This insect flies low and fast around forested, swampy areas. It can be identified by its black-brown wings, with a blue half-moon marking on the hindwings.

Answer: Mississippi

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Clue: Missouri

About 1% of the workers in this species’ population die every day as part of the natural life cycle of its community. Worker populations are replaced every four months or so, while the queen survives and continues to produce offspring.

Answer: Missouri

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: Montana

This species, which is known in Britain as the Camberwell Beauty, has one of the longest lifespans for its kind. It enjoys protected status in Switzerland, Austria, and the Czech Republic.

Answer: Montana

- State insect: Mourning cloak butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa)

Clue: Nebraska

This insect requires an internal body temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit to fly. To cope with this while flying in temperatures as low as 86 degrees, the species employs strategic shivering throughout its flight to warm itself.

Answer: Nebraska

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: Nevada

This species is easily recognized by its electric blue color, intersected with a black pattern. Living near streams, it eats smaller insects, including mosquitoes, flies, and small moths.

Answer: Nevada

- State insect: Vivid Dancer (Argia vivida)

Clue: New Hampshire

State insect: This species has an extremely widespread distribution, with populations found from Europe to Australia to Mongolia to central Africa to North America. There was once a dense population on the island of Malta, though this community has been steadily declining in recent years.

State butterfly: This silver or blue-winged insect is known to occupy open, sunny habitats. It is closely associated with the wild blue lupine flower, which provides a central food source.

Answer: New Hampshire

- State insect: Seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata)
- State butterfly: Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis)

Clue: New Jersey

This insect was probably first domesticated in ancient Egypt, where it is depicted in tomb paintings, and introduced to North America in the early 17th century. It uses pheromones for almost all of its interactions and communications, including mating, defending themselves, producing food, and warning others.

Answer: New Jersey

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: New Mexico

State insect: This species uses its string to paralyze and capture its prey, but it is formidable for humans as well. As biologist Ben Hutchins noted, “There are some vivid descriptions of people getting stung by these things, and their recommendation …was to just lie down and start screaming, because few if any people could maintain verbal and physical coordination after getting stung by one of these things.”

State butterfly: This species was discovered in Albuquerque by the University of Kansas student Noel McFarland in 1958. When the New Mexico Legislature made it the state butterfly in 2004, they noted that the insect is “thought of as uniquely New Mexican.”

Answer: New Mexico

- State insect: Tarantula hawk wasp (Pepsis grossa)
- State butterfly: Sandia hairstreak butterfly (Callophrys mcfarlandi)

Clue: New York

This species, which has four black spots on each wing with one additional spot in between, is native to both the U.S. and southern Canada. Though it used to be common across its range, its population has notably declined, with recent collections of the insect only occurring in the Midwest and west coast.

Answer: New York

- State insect: Nine-spotted ladybug (Coccinella novemnotata)

Clue: North Carolina

State insect: This species has been part of commerce since at least 1622 when populations were shipped from Britain to Virginia. World War I increased its commercialization, through establishing further developed highways and popularizing motor vehicle use.

State butterfly: This insect is known to engage in puddling, a practice in which they gather in puddles, mud, or on damp gravel. In doing so, they can extract sodium ions and amino acids from their environment, which can be used later in reproduction.


Answer: North Carolina

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Clue: North Dakota

This insect is native to North America, though populations have been introduced to South America as well through being imported from California. Because aphids are at the center of their diet, they are often used in pest-control methods against them.

Answer: North Dakota

- State insect: Convergent lady beetle (Hippodamia convergens)

Clue: Ohio

This insect’s body can grow to up to half an inch. It was first introduced to the U.S. in 1973 and has spread naturally from New York to Georgia since then.

Answer: Ohio

- State insect: Seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata)

Clue: Oklahoma

State insect: This species is one of the most important pollinators of crops worldwide, helping to grow almonds, apples, and blueberries, among other foods. Pollinators prop up as much as $577 billion in food products, with this species alone offering a commercial value of many billions of dollars.

State butterfly: This insect is named after Polyxena, a figure from Greek mythology. It is common in the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains, in open habitats including fields and parks.

Answer: Oklahoma

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes)

Clue: Oregon

This species can be spotted between April and September. It has a yellow abdomen and orange-spotted wings, though earlier in the year the insect is lighter-colored than those that appear later in the year.

Answer: Oregon

- State insect: Oregon swallowtail butterfly (Papilio oregonius)

Clue: Pennsylvania

This insect can be identified by its primarily black color, marked with red dots and yellow stripes along its body and wings. It was made the state insect of Pennsylvania in 1974 after students from Highland Park Elementary School wrote letters and gathered petition signatures to campaign for it.

Answer: Pennsylvania

- State insect: Pennsylvania firefly (Photuris pennsylvanica)

Clue: Rhode Island

This species is strikingly colored, with orange markings on its otherwise black body, wings, and head. Its population has diminished to occupy less than 10% of its original range, due to habitat loss and degradation.

Answer: Rhode Island

- State insect: American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

Clue: South Carolina

State insect: This species has earthy brown, grey, or green tones, which it employs as camouflage. An individual’s color often changes many times throughout its life, as it can adjust its tone each time it molts to match its environment.

State butterfly: This insect’s range stretches from Vermont down to Florida laterally down the east coast, and longitudinally from the east to the Great Plains states. A single specimen was found in Ireland in the early 20th century, believed to be an accidental introduction from North America.


Answer: South Carolina

- State insect: Carolina mantis (Stagmomantis carolina)
- State butterfly: Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Clue: South Dakota

This species collects propolis from trees and flowers and uses it to seal and repair its habitat. Propolis is also used in wood finishes, and to give the Stradivarius violin its signature red tone.

Answer: South Dakota

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: Tennessee

State insect #1: This species displays a variety of defense mechanisms against predators. These include producing a sticky substance to entangle predators in, and a foul odor to repel them. Additionally, males of this insect emit a targeted flash to locate females to mate with, pairing up with a partner once a female responds with a flash of her own.

State insect #2: This species is one of the biggest predators of aphids, and as such, has been used for pest-control against them, similarly to the convergent lady beetle. It completes overwintering in forest edges, among ground litter, and under rocks and tree bark.

State agricultural insect: This insect is an invasive species in many non-native areas it inhabits, often displacing native birds and insects. It is the third insect to have its genome mapped, following the fruit fly and mosquito.

State butterfly: This species hovers closely to pawpaw trees, which provide a crucial food source for adults and young. It can be recognized by the ‘swordlike’ tails that extend from its greenish-white wings.

Answer: Tennessee

- State insect #1: Common eastern firefly (Photinus pyralis)
- State insect #2: Seven-spotted ladybug (Coccinella septempunctata)
- State agricultural insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Zebra swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus)

Clue: Texas

This species’ range extends from southern Canada to northern Southern America, as well as in Australia, the Philippines, North Africa, and occasionally the U.K. It is lucky enough to have barely any predators.

Answer: Texas

- State insect: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Clue: Utah

This species is victim to a long list of predators. Reptiles that prey on the insect include toads, bullfrogs, and wood frogs. Bird predators include hummingbirds, grackles, and tanagers, and mammal predators include bears, raccoons, skunks, and honey badgers. Additionally, many insects and spiders prey on the species too.

Answer: Utah

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: Vermont

State insect: This species spends much of its energy on collecting nectar, which it then stores in its second stomach to transport back to its habitat. Once there, this insect will spend about a half-hour digesting the nectar and removing it from its body.

State butterfly: This insect has a slow flight speed, estimated at around 5.5 miles per hour. Though it has six legs, it only uses its middle and hindlegs, tucking its forelegs against its body without using them.

Answer: Vermont

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Clue: Virginia

The first known drawing of a butterfly in North America was of this species, drawn by John White in 1587 during one of Sir Walter Raleigh’s expeditions to Virginia. The insect was later described by Linnaeus in Systema Naturae in the mid-18th century.


Answer: Virginia

- State insect: Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Clue: Washington

This species is named after its resemblance to a darning needle. Females lay their eggs beneath the surface of bodies of water, with older individuals eating aquatic prey such as tadpoles and small fish.

Answer: Washington

- State insect: Green darner dragonfly (Anax junius)

Clue: West Virginia

State insect: Many characteristics of this species have led to its widespread domestication, including its resistance to disease, reduced aggressiveness, and ability to survive long periods with little food. It is believed that rock art in western Europe dating back to 7,000 B.C. depicts this insect.

State butterfly: This species is thought to have been named for King William III of England, the Prince of Orange. It is also commonly known as the milkweed, common tiger, and black-veined brown.

Answer: West Virginia

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)
- State butterfly: Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus)

Clue: Wisconsin

Dances of this species include the waggle dance, the round dance, the jerking dance, and the vibration dance. It has at least 29 subspecies, all of which are cross-fertile.

Answer: Wisconsin

- State insect: European honey bee (Apis mellifera)

Clue: Wyoming

The wings of this insect are dark grey and brown, with bright green undersides. It inhabits environments including scrubs, brush-filled hillsides, woodlands, and canyon slopes.

Answer: Wyoming

- State insect: Sheridan's green hairstreak (Callophrys sheridanii)

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