Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Oklahoma: Smart People

It surprised me to learn today that only 29 of the 50 states in our United States have officially designated butterflies, indeed only 43 of 50 have officially designated insects—and Michigan is not on either list (ht Brigitte). Well, turns out, that Michigan is trying. An Oakland County web site tells us that the state insect is the Green Darner Dragon Fly, but that’s only unofficially. Now in our opinion any legislature so focused on tax cutting and levying fees that it has no time to designate a State Insect by majority vote needs drumming out of office. Around this household we know what is important!

We salute the smart people of Oklahoma for selecting the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, the star of Rancho Mariposa, as its state butterfly—and the European Honey Bee as its state insect. Not all participating states do—but some have both. Oklahoma has gone the whole nine yards.

Got to wondering about places where places where we have lived. Missouri, Kansas, Virginia, Minnesota, and now Michigan. Missouri and Kansas both have state insects, the European Honey Bee. Virginia, another smart state, has a Swallowtail too, but it is the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Minnesota opts for the Monarch. The Monarch, incidentally, rules! It is the state butterfly of Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Texas, Vermont, and West Virginia. The hands-down winner among the insects? The European Honey Bee: Arkansas, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming: The United States of Honey Bee!

Can’t this man get off this fluttering subject already? Impossible, dear friends. We have lots of butterflies now. Two Monarchs came to the Rancho just yesterday to partake of the nectar of our Japanese Knotweed, a kind of bamboo—not counting dozens of Fiery Skippers and our regulars, the Small White Cabbage. The knotweed is now in full bloom, and its high branches and white blooms were aswarm with the winners of this morning’s state competition: Monarchs and Bees.

And then, last night, my eyes just casually brushing some small fennel plants, I detected our tenth caterpillar of the year astride one of its slender green stems. It looks like another Swallowtail hoping to be born here so that it can flutter off to where it really belongs—Oklahoma. Unless our efforts here result in the designation of the Black Swallowtail as the official Michigan State Butterfly. Dream on. Dream on.

The images in sequence: the European Honey Bee, state insect of seventeen states; the Monarch Butterfly, state butterfly of eight states; Oklahoma's Black Swallowtail; Virginia's Tiger Swallowtail; and Michigan's "unofficial" state insect, the Green Darner Dragon Fly. Here some links: State insect web site, State butterfly web site; and Michigan State symbols. The images shown were taken from these.


  1. Time to lobby your state legislature for the things that really matter. You put Brigitte in front of a committee to testify passionately about the Black Swallowtail and that "Official Butterfly" designation is in the bag.

  2. There is a site that tells me that the GREEN DARNER DRAGON FLY has been designated the MI State Insect, albeit only unofficially so far. I will accept that beautiful and unassuming little insect instead of our favorite one. I had, however, heard some derisive commenters proposing the Fishfly. Now that would have prompted me to action.


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