Fancy-haired new moth named for Trump

The scientist who discovered the new species is hoping the famous name will help encourage conservation efforts.

Well that was quick – even before Donald J. Trump assumes the role of 45th President of the United States of America, he gets a species named after him. But given the looks of Neopalpa donaldtrumpi – a second species of twirler moth – is it any wonder? The head is described as such: “Scaled with light-yellow frons, scales on the vertex converging towards middle, often with darker tips [et cetera] …” As can be seen in the photos, the resemblance is striking!

New moth© Dr. Vazrick Nazari

The new golden-coiffured species was discovered by evolutionary biologist and systematist Dr. Vazrick Nazari while researching material from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, University of California, Davis. Nazari noticed several specimens that seemed unique, only to discover that they were indeed a new species that had yet to be described.

The old and new species in the twirler moth genus share a habitat, which ranges across California and Baja California, Mexico – ironically, walls are moot for moths.

Map© Dr. Vazrick NazariBut beyond the obvious visual similarities, Nazari chose the name to help bring attention to the urgent need for further conservation efforts for fragile areas such as the new guy’s habitat.

"The discovery of this distinct micro-moth in the densely populated and otherwise zoologically well-studied southern California underscores the importance of conservation of the fragile habitats that still contain undescribed and threatened species, and highlights the paucity of interest in species-level taxonomy of smaller faunal elements in North America," says Nazari.

"By naming this species after the 45th President of the United States," he adds, "I hope to bring some public attention to, and interest in, the importance of alpha-taxonomy in better understanding the neglected micro-fauna component of the North American biodiversity."

While fragile habitats may plummet in priority over the next few years given the leanings of a new administration that doesn’t seem that keen on nature, there may be no better way to protect something than to slap the name Trump on it. Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, long may you and your golden mane fly.

Tags: Animals | Insects

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