Entomologist Bryan Lessard hopes to draw attention to the underappreciated insects and inspire young LGBTQ science-lovers.
An Australian scientist has named an eye-catching new fly species after RuPaul ― and the “Drag Race” host seems to approve.
Opaluma rupaul (the “opaluma” part coming from the Latin words for “opal” and “thorn”) is an iridescent species of soldier fly, important insects that are usually underappreciated by the general public.
“Soldier flies are valuable in the ecosystem,” Bryan Lessard, an entomologist with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, said in a statement. “The larvae recycle nutrients from dead plants and animals, while adults are pollinators of some Australian plants.”
That’s why, in Lessard’s mind, the new species deserved a name that matched its flashy looks.
“Naming a species is the first step to understanding and protecting them because otherwise they’re invisible to science,” he told The Guardian.
Lessard figured RuPaul would appreciate the name after realizing the insect is “quite fierce.”
“It has a costume of shiny metallic rainbow colors, and it has legs for days,” he said.
That prediction seems to have been correct, as RuPaul tweeted about the fabulous fly on Wednesday.
Opaluma rupaul is one of 13 new soldier fly species named by Lessard ― aka “Bry the Fly Guy.” Nine inhabit regions devastated by the raging wildfires of 2019 and 2020, he said.
Lessard wants Opaluma rupaul to serve as a positive signal for young LGBTQ people interested in science.
“As a gay scientist, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin in a very traditional field of science ― in entomology,” Lessard told CNN. “I think it’s really important for the next generation of LGBTQ+ scientists to know that they’re being represented in the workplace, as we give the names of legends in the community to memorable species.”
Lessard previously made headlines for naming a different insect after a celebrity back in 2012 ― the Scaptia beyonceae, a horsefly named after Beyoncé.
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