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What Is the State Insect of Wyoming? Symbolism, Facts, & FAQ

Callophrys sheridanii

Out of all the states in America, 40 of them have chosen an official insect to represent their state. Wyoming is one such state which opted for a state butterfly, the Sheridan’s green hairstreak butterfly. This emerald-colored beauty should rightfully have the status of a state butterfly!

Are you curious to know the history behind the selection of the Sheridan’s green hairstreak? In this article, we look at how Wyoming’s state insect came to be and how to identify it. Keep reading

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How Was It Decided?

The Sheridan’s green hairstreak butterfly was designated as the state’s official insect after legislation created by the senate was signed by Governor George Freudenthal. This was done on February 26th, 2009. Also known as Callophrys sheridanii, it is a distinctive insect and one of the few green butterflies native to the state of Wyoming.

This butterfly was first discovered in 1877 in Sheridan, Wyoming. The butterfly and the town derive their name from Lt. General P.H. Sheridan, a famous civil war commander based in Wyoming. However, the butterfly was named before the town got its name.

Some of these state symbols were designated by school children, and Wyoming wasn’t any different. A student from Big Horn named Tanner Warder started the project to designate the green streak butterfly as a state insect. Warder tirelessly worked with a classmate, Lydia Mayer, to gather input from other Big Horn students before sharing their idea with the Sheridan County Legislators. These two students even testified before the committee with the support of their fellow students who participated in the proceedings via a video conference call.

The official law designating Sheridan’s green streak butterfly as Wyoming’s State insect¹ can be found in Wyoming statutes, Title 8, Chapter 3, and Section 8-3-122.

Why It Was Chosen

The Sheridan’s green streak butterfly was chosen to represent this beautiful state because the species is widely spread across the area. Museum experts in Wyoming estimate that the green streak butterfly is one of the most widespread of all the 12,000 insect species found in the state.

It is naturally distributed northwards towards South America, southwards towards northern New Mexico, westwards towards California, and eastwards towards northern West Dakota. It is commonly found in canyons and Wyoming foothills at heights of up to 8,000 feet (2,440 meters)

They are mostly found wherever their primary food source, the sulfur plant, is growing. These butterfly species also feed on nectar from various indigenous wildflowers found in the state.

These butterflies can be spotted flying between the months of March to early June. Furthermore, it is among the earliest to emerge from a butterfly Pupa in the state of Wyoming. Similar to the robins in Wyoming and other states, this butterfly species is used as a symbol to represent the start of spring in the state¹. You can easily spot adult green streak butterflies flying about in the warmer days of spring as the snow is melting nearby.

Identification Guide

Sheridan’s green streak butterfly is a small species, with wing spans spreading up to an average of around an inch. However, they feature some bright green colors under the wings, which are very distinctive. This makes the butterfly very easy to identify.

On the underside of the back wing, you will notice some white dots, which may sometimes join to form a continuous solid white line. The upper wing side is dark gray. However, when the butterfly is resting, the wings fold back, thus exposing lower surfaces unique to this butterfly species.

Characteristics of the Sheridan’s green hairstreak butterfly are as follows:

Wing Span: 7/8—1 1/8 inches (2.2—2.9 cm)
Life History: Females typically lay their eggs on the leaves of the host plant
Caterpillar Hosts: Thrive on various species of Eriogonum (wild buckwheat)
Adult Food: Flower nectar
Habitat: Sagebrush scrub, woodlands, subalpine screen, and chaparral
Range: Southern British Columbia; southeast along the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico, south through eastern Washington to Sierra Nevada of California.
Conservation: Not usually required
NCGR: G5, secure globally, even though it may be rare in parts of the same range, especially at the periphery.

 

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Conclusion

Despite its modest population (approximately 100,000 citizens), the state of Wyoming is quite expansive and colorful. You will fall in love with the flora and fauna here. The state is home to some of the most exotic birds, trees, flowers, animals, and insects, including the state insect, which is the green hairstreak butterfly.

This insect represents everything valued in Wyoming, as well as the history and culture of the state. The green hairstreak butterfly should be respected as a state symbol and protected from any harm that may threaten their population.


Featured Image Credit: Callophrys sheridanii, Walter Siegmund, Wikimedia Commons CC SA 3.0 Unported

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