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What Is the State Insect of Indiana? How Was It Decided?

Says Firefly

Like other states in the United States, Indiana also has state symbols representing its heritage. For instance, besides the usual state symbols, they also have designated the Say’s Firefly as the state insect. It was designated in February 2018 by Governor Eric Holcomb.

Want to know more? We’ll discuss everything you may need to know about the state insect of Indiana in this guide.

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How Was the State Insect of Indiana Decided?

There were three states in the United States that didn’t have a state insect before 2018. One of them was Indiana. Tom Turpin suggested that Indiana should have a state insect because it was equally important as the state bird or flower.

Several schools then came up with the idea of having Say’s Firefly as the state insect of Indiana over a civics project the pupils carried out. The schools asked the students to write to legislators about the state insect. The goal of the project was to help them learn about the legislative procedure in the state.

In 1996, the long journey to make it the official state insect of Indiana started. The bill was presented to the Indiana legislature. The bill was approved, but it was not voted for in the Senate.

Later, it was revived in 2016. That’s when Indiana Senator Jim Tomes came across an image of Thomas Say, the man who discovered this insect and named it after himself. The Senator co-sponsored the bill. The bill was later passed and signed into law by Jim Tomes at the Cumberland Elementary gymnasium. That’s how the Say’s Firefly became the official state insect of Indiana.

A Brief History of the Say’s Firefly

The Say’s Firefly is named after Thomas Say. He was an American naturalist who first described this species in 1826. Thomas Say lived in New Harmony in Posey County. He discovered the firefly in Philadelphia in 1825 and named it after himself, as already mentioned.

The Say’s Firefly is native to Northern America. Of all the 1,900 firefly species found globally, North America has 170 firefly species, most of them prevalent in Indiana. Indiana has around 43 firefly species; the Say’s Firefly is one of them. Among these 43 species, 31 of them are lightning bugs. This means that they flash—the rest don’t flash.

Characteristics of the Say’s Firefly

The Say’s Firefly is also known as the firefly or lightning bug. It gets its name from its ability to produce light on its own, thus glowing in the dark. It uses this light to attract mates and food, such as other insects.

The Say’s Firefly is one of the smallest firefly species in North America. It is medium-sized, with a wingspan of 1.5 inches. It can reach up to 2.5 centimeters (1 inch). It also has an oval body shape with yellow and black markings.

It has six legs and three body segments (head, thorax, and abdomen), similar to other insects.  The males have a flashing light organ on their abdomen’s underside. These insects have large compound eyes with many facets and a pair of long cerci (tails) at the end of their abdomen.

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We have introduced you to the state insect of Indiana in this guide. Hopefully, you have learned more about this fascinating creature that lives right here in Indiana. The majestic Say’s Firefly graces the state of Indiana with its glorious presence, and it’s important to know about the species that help our environment to thrive.

Featured Image Credit: Jumpstory


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