In an article published in the journal ZooKeys, Vazrick Nazari explains in pretty clear terms how a new species of moth got its name.
“The new species is named in honor of Donald J. Trump, to be installed as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017,” states the article, published in the journal this month. “The reason for this choice of name is to bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the US that still contain many undescribed species.”
Also, there’s this:
“The specific epithet is selected because of the resemblance of the scales on the frons (head) of the moth to Mr. Trump’s hairstyle,” the article states.
We’re talking about Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, a new species of moth named for President-elect Donald Trump. The moth is a small guy, with a wingspan of less than one centimeter, Nazari said in an email. It has orange-yellow and brown wings, and sports bright yellow scales on its head.
Nazari, an evolutionary biologist and systematist, discovered the moth while sifting through borrowed material from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, which is on the University of California-Davis campus. He noticed that “a few specimens” didn’t quite match up with species that scientists already knew about, according to a news release on the discovery.
“Following thorough analysis of these moths, as well as material from other institutions, the scientist confirmed he had discovered the second species of a genus of twirler moths,” the release states.
According to the release, “both species in the genus share a habitat,” but it is still pretty easy to tell which is which. The head of adult N. donaldtrumpi moths have “yellowish-white scales,” it says. The release noted that with those scales, Nazari “found an amusing reference to Mr. Trump’s hairstyle,” and it became another reason for the moth’s name.
“I hope he takes it with the good spirit as it is intended,” Nazari told The Washington Post in an email Tuesday. “We need the next administration to continue protecting vulnerable and fragile habitats across the United States.”
The moth can be be found in Southern California and Mexico, Nazari wrote. Specifically he mentioned the Algodones Dunes in Southern California, and wrote that “fragile dune habitats like these are often threatened by passersby or by dune-buggy enthusiasts.”
The president-elect’s transition team did not immediately respond for an email requesting a comment about the moth Tuesday.
Nazari is Canadian, he wrote in the email, describing his opinion of the incoming president as “inconsequential.”
“But he will be the next president of the United States and I wish him success in his job because if he succeeds, The United States succeeds,” he wrote.
Additionally, Nazari said that he also hopes his N. donaldtrumpi paper will help spark some interest with younger people, who might want to consider entomology as a career.
“Insects are among the largest groups of animals on this planet but the number of people studying them are vanishingly small. The world of insects is fascinating and there is a lot to discover, as evident by this new species from California,” he wrote. “For a point of fact, as of yet we do not know anything about what Neoplapa donaldtrumpi does for a living: We do not know its host plant, its larval or pupal stages etc. this is something for the next generation of young scientists to discover.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Sarah Larimer