Citizens of Nebraska in the 1800s were called “Bug Eaters” (or “Bugeaters"), and Nebraska was called the “Bug Eater State.” The name is from the bug-eating European nightjar bird. “Nebraska...Bug Eaters” was cited in 1864.
The University of Nebraska athletic teams were originally called the “Bugeaters,” but the “Cornhuskers” nickname became popular in 1900.
Nebraska has also been called the “Antelope State” and the “Tree Planters State.”
Wikipedia: European nightjar
The European nightjar, Eurasian nightjar or just nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) is a crepuscular and nocturnal bird in the nightjar family that breeds across most of Europe and temperate Asia. The Latin generic name refers to the old myth that the nocturnal nightjar suckled goats, causing them to cease to give milk.
The European nightjar feeds on a wide variety of flying insects, which it seizes in flight, often fly-catching from a perch. It hunts by sight, silhouetting its prey against the night sky. Its eyes are relatively large, each with a reflective layer, which improves night vision. It appears not to rely on its hearing to find insects and does not echolocate
Wikipedia: Charles “Cy” Sherman
Charles “Cy” Sherman (March 10, 1871 – May 22, 1951) was an American journalist and is known as the “father of the Cornhuskers” after giving the Nebraska Cornhuskers football team the name “Cornhuskers” in 1899.
Origin of the Cornhusker name
During the 1890 through 1899 seasons, the Huskers had been called multiple names including Treeplanters, Rattlesnake Boys, Antelopes, Old Gold Knights and Bugeaters. The school was changing its school colors to scarlet and cream in 1892 and the Old Gold Knights no longer made sense. By 1892, the team’s most commonly used nickname was the Bugeaters, named after the insect-devouring bull bats.
Sherman was writing for the Nebraska State Journal in 1899 and was the first to use the name Cornhuskers to refer to Nebraska, which would become the only used name for the team in 1900. The reason for the change was that Sherman thought the name Bugeaters was unglamorous and was tired of referring to the Nebraska teams with that name.
25 July 1864, Indianapolis (IN) Daily Journal, “National Nick-Names,” pg. 4, col. 2:
June 1865 The Wisconsin Journal of Education, pg. 328:
The following are the “nicknames” of the native inhabitants of the different States:
... Nebraska, Bug Eaters; ...
15 November 1865, Nebraska Herald (Plattsmouth, NE), pg. 1, col. 6:
Nebraska, Bug Eaters.
7 April 1866, The Daily Cleveland Herald (Cleveland, OH), “Geographical Nicknames,” pg. 2, col. 2:
... Nebraska, bug eaters; ...
August 1866, American Agriculturist, “Nicknames,” pg. 295, col. 1:
... Nebraska, bug-eaters; ...
3 October 1882, Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, WI), pg. 2, col. 6:
THE women are preparing to make a very vigorous canvass in Nebraska, this fall, in behalf of the women suffrage constitutional amendment, which will be voted on by the people November 7th. A number of enthusiastic women from various part of the country will take the stump in a week or two, and harangue the people in every village in the Bugeater state.
An Index to the United States of America
Compiled by Malcolm Townsend
Boston, MA: D. Lothrop Company
NICKNAMES APPLIED TO THE PEOPLE OF THE STATES.
Nebraska...Bug-eaters...From the numerous Bug-eaters as locally named, the typical species of Caprimulgus, the Night-Jar [C. europaeus.] It is about the size of a thrush. They are sometimes called Bull Bats, being accused by the ignorant of sucking milk from cows. He is a bird of evil omen in the estimation of the rural population. The reverse should be the case, for the benefit he produces in clearing the air of noxious insects is incalculable.
22 December 1894, Sioux City (IA) Journal, pg. 4, col. 3:
The Nebraska society of pioneers has engaged itself in a great task, that of getting the nickname of Nebraskans changed from “Bug Eaters” to “Tree Planters.” How would “Bee Eaters” do for a change that is hardly noticeable, or “Pop Hunters” or some appelation?
Universal Dictionary of the English Language
Edited by Robert Hunter, Charles Morris
New York, NY: Peter Fenelon Collier, Publisher
Nebraska. Bug-eaters (from the bird known locally by that name— the nignt jar, or goatsucker).
25 June 1950, Sunday World-Herald (Omaha, NE), “Sport Tastes Haven’t Changed Much” by Floyd Olds, pg. 10H, col. 1:
Charles S. (Cy) Sherman, weary of the Bugeaters nickname, christened Nebraska teams the Cornhuskers.
OCLC WorldCat record
The mighty Bugeaters : the first decade of Nebraska football, 1890-1899
Author: David Harding; Nebraska Clothing Company.
Publisher: Omaha, NE : Nebraska Clothing Co. Press, ©1998.
Edition/Format: Print book : English
Encyclopedia of Nebraska
By Nancy Capace
St. Clair Shores, MI: Somerset Publishers, Inc.
The Bug-eating State is a sobriquet applied to Nebraska from the fact that it has numerous bull bats, (Caprimulgus europaeus,) which are locally named bug-eaters because they feed on insects.
Focus on American English & Culture
By Pierfranca Forchini
EDUCatt - Ente per il diritto allo studio universitario dell’Università Cattolica
Others have called it the Bugeating State, after a nickname of “Bug-eaters” given to Nebraskans, a derogatory term based on the poverty-stricken appearance of the state.
The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Was Iowa the Cornhuskers before it was the Hawkeyes?
Mar 31, 2014 at 3:41 am
There are still rude people who call the Cornhuskers “the Bugeaters.” This is frowned upon by Nebraskans. But the university has registered the name “Bugeaters.”
By the way, the 1900 Nebraska football team was coached by Walter C. “Bummy” Booth and played home games at Antelope Field. Those were the days, my friend.