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Published January 14 2011

Forum editorial: Ladybug? Why not mosquito as the state insect?

Not every idea that comes out of a North Dakota classroom should be adopted as legislation. Take the campaign by second-grade students in Kenmare to have the ladybug designated the state insect. It’s good the kids are learning how government works. It’s hard not to applaud their efforts and praise their teacher for encouraging them.

But the ladybug? The kids can do better. First, are they talking about the native ladybug or the Asian version? There’s a difference. The Asian import bites (some of the native species do, too), so it doesn’t necessarily live up to the good-luck reputation of ladybugs we all knew and loved as children.

Second, while ladybugs might have some beneficial importance to farming, the insect that really puts North Dakota on the agricultural map is the honeybee. North Dakota often leads the nation in honey production. Who doesn’t like honeybees? But, the honeybee had its shot in the 1989 Legislature and was told to buzz off.

If the students want to be honest, the bug that flies to the top of the state’s entomological list is the mosquito. They are everywhere. They command more attention from North Dakotans and suck up more resources from cities (“vector control”) than any other native bugs. We concede the reviled mosquito attaining state insect status is a long shot.

The ladybug bill – whether it succeeds or fails – is an opportunity to look at the state’s list of official this and that. It needs an update.