Lightning bug could become Indiana’s state insect

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A friendly summer-time flyer could become the face of Indiana with support to become the official insect of the state.

In the one-stoplight town of New Harmony, Indiana at the corner of Church and Main there is champion for this certain kind of flashing bulb.

Amanda Bryden is the town historian and advocate to etch a local namesake into another history book. Her goal is to make Say’s Firefly the state bug.

“Harken back to childhood days when they think about hot summers and bugs in the air during June and July,” she says. We’re a long way from the dog days but basking in the thought of warmer days is a good idea on a snowy Thursday.

Say’s Firefly is the lightning bug we all know. It’s named after Thomas Say, a pioneer in entomology who did most of his work in New Harmony in the 1800s.

Wesselman Nature Society expert, Gena Garrett hopes a new state insect will get people into the outdoors. “Hopefully it’ll be a gateway insect to people really paying more attention and respect insects more.”

A grade school class from West Lafayette has made it their mission to claim the lightning bug for Indiana and now State legislators are as accepting as ever to the native, six-legged flying friend.

A Senate committee approved the measure this week for the first time after three failed attempts in years past. About a dozen students visited Indianapolis to testify in front of the committee, which ultimately passed it to the full Senate on a unanimous 10-0 vote.

The Senate bill heads to the floor, and a House version is still waiting in committee.

Bryden remains in touch with the students, who she says often joke, “If we don’t hurry and designate Say’s Firefly as the state insect it might be the mosquito instead!”

She says Indiana is one of only three states without an official state insect, including Michigan and Iowa.

“A lot of other state insects are from Europe and they came over years ago,” Bryden says, “but ours is actually native to Indiana and the Midwest.”

While debates over Sunday sales, opioids, and guns will carry on at the capitol, Garrett says it might be worth slowing down to appreciate what we have.

“It’s kind of a neat way to be proud of your state.”

Video provided by Radim Schreiber

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(This story was originally published February 1, 2018)

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