A short while after the United States’ independence in 1776, states such as Texas began to adopt 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 Texas state symbols.
What is the Texas State Insect?
The state insect of Texas is the Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus). The monarch butterfly is one of the most beautiful and mesmerizing butterflies in the world and became the official state insect of Texas in 1995. Uniquely, the monarch butterfly is not the only Texas insect symbol, there is also a state pollinator too. These butterflies pass through the Lone Star State twice a year during their migrations north and south of the nation, hibernating in the mountains of Mexico until the early spring, and when they wake, then fly north over to Canada.
Typically with butterflies, they didn’t look particularly amazing as caterpillars, however, the colorations are just as incredible on the monarch butterfly as it is on the caterpillar. The bright orange colors are also used to warn predators off them, these butterflies ingest toxins from the milkweed plant which are extremely poisonous, making them taste bad which puts off predators from attacking and trying to eat them.
These beautiful insects can be seen majestically flying across the United States during the summer months, migrating an impressive 2,500 miles each year to their nesting areas of Texas, Mexico and Southern California, including some other southern states where they will lay their eggs. Three generatons of these butterflies are born along their famous migration path until the fourth stops in Texas to rest and feed during August when travelling back to Mexico.
The population of monarch butterflies in the wild is surprisingly and worryingly low nowadays. Back in the 1990s, the population of wild monarch butterflies was 1.2 million, and during the 2020 count, their population was as low as 2,000 butterflies! These numbers are minuscule and are below the extinction threshold, meaning that something has to change dramatically, otherwise Texas’ state insect will become extinct.
The legislature has said, “The monarch butterfly is as beautiful and memorable as a Texas sunset, soaring above all other insects in its nobility and determination, and its unique relationship with Texas makes it a truly appropriate symbol of the majestic spirit of the Lone Star State.”
Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story, that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Lone Star State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in the Texas state insect. This interesting fact about Texas 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.