CSIRO names new species of fly after RuPaul

By Australian Geographic 15 September 2021
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We can see the resemblance between RuPaul and Opaluma rupaul.

Meet Opaluma rupaul, a new species of soldier fly named in honour of American drag queen RuPaul. 

The genus Opaluma, Latin for ‘opal’ and ‘thorn’, is an all new Australian genus of flies and describes their iridescent colours and the thorn on the underside of their abdomens.

In addition to Opaluma rupaul, three elusive beetles were named after three hard-to-find Pokémon: Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.

There’s also Demyrsus digmon, a new species of cycad-boring weevil that’s been named after the insectoid Digmon in the Japanese anime television series Digimon Adventure.

Related: Why flies are way cooler than you think: Bryan Lessard

What’s the point of giving insects cool names? Fly expert Dr Bryan Lessard says it’s to get the public interested in insects and to attract the attention of policymakers who are currently working on bushfire recovery efforts. 

“Many of the thirteen new soldier flies I named are from areas impacted by the Black Summer bushfires,” Bryan says.

“Two of these, Opaluma opulens and Antissella puprasina, have now been recognised as endangered species under the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List and are known only from Lamington National Park in Queensland, an area that was significantly burned in the bushfires.

“Soldier flies are valuable in the ecosystem. The larvae recycle nutrients from dead plants and animals, while adults are pollinators of some Australian plants.”

You can find more new species named by the CSIRO here.