Back in the middle of the 19th century states such as Florida began adopting their own official state symbols. A state symbol can come in the form of state animals, mammals, a state bird and flower, fruits, vegetables, insects, amphibians, nicknames, state seals, and much more.

State symbols were adopted by states to best represent them and their historical roots, and past and present successes. Like all other states, there are many Florida state symbols.

What is the State Insect of Florida?

The state insect of Florida is the Zebra Longwing Butterfly (Heliconius charithonia). The beautiful zebra longwing butterfly has been Florida’s insect symbol since 1996 when it was officially adopted.

These incredibly unique butterflies take up a zebra-like appearance, with black and white stripes covering the entirety of their bodies and wings too. They can be found all throughout the warm state of Florida, and are most commonly spotted in south Florida, where you can see them typically residing in hardwood hammocks, thickets, gardens, and they can almost always be found in the stunning Everglades National Park.

It is not just their zebra appearance that makes them so easily identifiable, they also fly at a fairly slow pace, but still look incredibly elegant whilst in flight. When they are threatened or alarmed they will let off a creaking sound, almost like an old floor board.

Zebra longwings feed on nectar and pollen from plants primarily, being the only butterflies to eat pollen, including that of the Florida state flower! Scientists believe this is a factor in why they have such long lifespans compared with other butterflies. Most butterflies only live to around 1 month, however, these zebras will live up to 6 months!

Florida state insect

They lay their eggs on passion vine leaves, this is because the passion vines contain extreme toxins that are eaten by the caterpillars, making the adult butterflies extremely poisonous to predators. Fortunately, these butterflies are not endangered, and are commonly found in Florida and other states, but predominantly Florida.

Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Sunshine State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in the Florida state insect. This interesting fact about Florida and a whole host of others are what makes the state so unique and fascinating to those that live there or are researching the historical events of the state.