Assemblywoman Galef Announces Red Spotted Purple/White Admiral Wins Statewide Contest for proposed Official New York State Butterfly

Fourth Grade student’s idea rewarded with nearly 35,000 student voters and a legislative resolution to protect the endangered butterfly she nominated
January 7, 2008

What do the Black Swallowtail, the Karner Blue, Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, the Mourning Cloak and the Red Spotted Purple/White Admiral butterfly have in common? They were each contestants in a statewide contest of nearly 35,000 third, fourth and fifth grade students to nominate the New York State butterfly.

State Assemblywoman Sandy Galef held a news conference today at Town of Cortlandt Town Hall, in Cortlandt Manor to announce the results of the vote tally, as tabulated by Town of Cortlandt Town Clerk Joanne Dyckman. The winner is the Red Spotted Purple/White Admiral Butterfly with 12,461 votes.

Following closely behind, the Karner Blue garnered 11,489 votes. The other three nominees – a The Black Swallowtail, the Milbert’s Tortoiseshell, and the Morning Cloak – received far fewer votes. Galef, along with State Senator Vincent Leibell, who joined her today at the news conference, will introduce legislation into each of their houses designating the Red Spotted Purple or White Admiral as the official butterfly of New York State. Eighteen assembly members throughout New York State participated in the initiative, representing Suffolk, Nassau, the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Columbia, Sullivan, Albany, Saratoga, Allegheny and Monroe, among others.

Once the legislation passes in the assembly and the senate, and is signed by the governor, the butterfly will join the list of official state flora and fauna that include the rose as the state flower, the sugar maple as the state tree, and the bluebird as the state bird.

Karina Franke, a fourth grader at Furnace Woods Elementary School in Cortlandt Manor, initially approached Assemblywoman Galef to request that the Karner Blue be designated the state butterfly in order to bring attention to its endangered status. Galef met with Karina and suggested that a fair and democratic process for such an important decision should be opened up to a larger voting body. Not only would a bigger pool of voters give the bill a stronger basis of support, it also would give elementary school-aged students an authentic learning opportunity about how state government operates.

“I think this was a wonderful way for young students to get involved in the legislative and electoral process and have fun learning,” stated Galef. Students had an opportunity to learn how to vote, to cast ballots, and about the process of how a state bill becomes a law. To inform their votes, the students also had an opportunity to explore details about the five nominated butterfly types, making science and the environment come to life as well.

The Karner Blue butterfly is endangered due to its dwindling habitat. Although the Karner Blue came very close to winning, some students expressed concern about nominating a butterfly for the state that might become extinct. This could account for why the species did not garner the majority of votes. Early in the 2008 legislative session, Assemblywoman Galef will introduce a resolution in Albany to protect the Karner Blue even though it was not selected to represent the state.

Butterfly photos are available on Assemblywoman Galef’s page of the New York State Assembly website at For more information, please contact the Assemblywoman’s office at 914-941-1111.