By Kelly Abraham | Echo
This past February, Governor Eric Holcomb passed Senate Act 236 to make the Say's Firefly the official state insect of Indiana.
After Rhode Island declared the American Burying Beetle their state insect in 2015, Indiana became one of only six U.S. states without a designated insect. However, this year, it is officially the most recent state to declare its own - the lightning bug. The insect is properly called the Say's Firefly, named in 1826 by entomologist Thomas Say.
Holcomb has served as the 51st Governor of Indiana since January of 2017 and has since made this cause part of his legislative agenda. His support of this bill was largely due to the perseverance of young Indiana students who advocated for the firefly to be recognized.
"Lightning bugs remind me of my childhood adventures at my grandma's house out in the country, so I think they're a great choice for our state insect," said freshman Rachel Knight, an Upland native.
Students from Cumberland Elementary School in West Lafayette have expressed particular enthusiasm for this cause for several years. They offered a list of arguments for the lightning bug's significance including its agricultural benefits and the exciting educational lessons provided by its bioluminescence.
Thomas Say was living in New Harmony, Indiana, when he titled the bug, scientifically named "pyractomena angulata." He is known as the father of North American entomology, making the insect an important addition to Indiana's history.
"I wouldn't pick anything else to be the state insect," said junior Lauren Rush, another resident of Indiana. "I used to catch hundreds and put them in jars so they would twinkle when I went to bed. (I stopped that when I found out they died though.) . . . Shout out to those elementary kids for getting a bill passed, even though three senators voted against it, which was super weird."
While some of his political peers found the subject of Act 236 trivial, Holcomb assured these students that their voices were being heard.
Due to this bill, the Say's Firefly will continue to hold a special place in the heart of Indiana and its special place in American history.
"Beyond the satisfaction these kids will feel when they look out on a hot Indiana summer night and see the state insect flashing away," Holcomb said, "The real beauty of this bill is the civic engagement it inspired in our youngest citizens. It's taught them a great deal about how our lawmaking process works - and that if they are engaged, they can make a real difference."