- Neopalpa donaldtrumpi was formally described in the journal ZooKeys this week, just days before Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.
- A very small moth with a wingspan of just nine millimeters (0.4 inches), N. donaldtrumpi is the second species of twirler moth found throughout Southern California in the United States and Baja California, Mexico.
- The researcher who made the discovery said he hopes that naming the new moth N. donaldtrumpi on the eve of Trump’s inauguration will raise public awareness about the critical need for conservation of areas like the threatened habitat of the new species.
A new moth has been named after Donald Trump due to the fact that, in its adult form, the species boasts a series of yellowish-white scales on its head that resemble Trump’s infamous hairdo.
Neopalpa donaldtrumpi was formally described in the journal ZooKeys this week, just days before Trump’s inauguration as the 45th president of the United States.
A tiny moth with a wingspan of just nine millimeters (0.4 inches), N. donaldtrumpi is the second species of twirler moth found throughout Southern California in the United States and Baja California, Mexico. If Trump is successful in building a border wall between Mexico and the U.S., an issue he campaigned heavily on, it would divide his new namesake’s habitat.
The researcher who discovered the new species, evolutionary biologist Vazrick Nazari, said he hopes the name will bring attention to the fact that new species can still be found in the U.S. even in regions that have already been thoroughly surveyed by scientists.
“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,” Nazari said in a statement.
Nazari discovered the previously undescribed species while examining moth specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California, Berkeley. It was assumed to belong to a moth family known as Gelechiidae, or twirler moths (so named because they are known to twirl in circles when disturbed), but Nazari told Live Science that “Its distinctive wing pattern and its unique DNA bar code immediately flagged it as a new and undescribed species.”
Unique characteristics of N. donaldtrumpi‘s genitalia also helped Nazari determine the moth is its own distinct species.
Live Science notes that, while this is the first species to be named after Trump, his hair also inspired the nickname, “Trumpapillar,” given to the hairy orange-yellow caterpillars of the flannel moth, a native of the Peruvian Amazon.
“President Barack Obama has inspired more species names than any other president,” Live Science adds, “nine in total, including a coral reef fish native to Hawaii, a trapdoor spider and a type of lichen.”
Nazari said he hopes that naming the new moth N. donaldtrumpi on the eve of Trump’s inauguration will raise public awareness about the critical need for conservation of areas like the threatened habitat of the new species.
“By naming this species after the 45th President of the United States, 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,” Nazari said.
Nazari is also hoping to get the attention of Trump himself.
“I hope that the president will make conservation of such fragile ecosystems in the U.S. his top priority,” he told Live Science. “These ecosystems still contain many undiscovered and undescribed species, and deserve to be protected for future generations.”
So I named a species after @realDonaldTrump. Maybe now he’ll make conservation of fragile US ecosystems a priority?https://t.co/jetz83AHaC
— Vazrick Nazari (@vazrick) January 17, 2017
- Nazari, V. (2017). Review of Neopalpa Povolný, 1998 with description of a new species from California and Baja California, Mexico (Lepidoptera, Gelechiidae). ZooKeys 646: 79-94. doi:10.3897/zookeys.646.11411
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