A fly just got named after RuPaul. It better werk

Well halleloo!

Leslie Katz Former Culture Editor
Leslie Katz led a team that explored the intersection of tech and culture, plus all manner of awe-inspiring science, from space to AI and archaeology. When she's not smithing words, she's probably playing online word games, tending to her garden or referring to herself in the third person.
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Leslie Katz
2 min read

Here's opaluma rupaul serving looks. 


Meet Opaluma rupaul, a fly newly named after RuPaul. Its multicolored iridescence recalls the splashy designer suits and gowns RuPaul wears on reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race. Still, being named after one of the world's most iconic drag queens seems like a lot of pressure for a little insect. It better werk. 

Opaluma rupaul is a member of the new Australian genus Opaluma (from the Latin words for opal and thorn). The name reflects the iridescent hues that characterize flies of this type, as well as the distinctive thorn found on the underside of their abdomens. 

Australia's science agency CSIRO and its partners have named 13 new soldier flies this year, including Opaluma rupaul and two endangered insects: Opaluma opulens and Antissella puprasina. Many of the 13 come from areas hit by the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires, which ravaged the country for months, devastating towns, rural communities, livelihoods and wildlife. 

RuPaul, on hearing about the eponymous soldier fly. 

Bryan Lessard, who's a postdoctoral research fellow with the National Research Collections Australia and named the flies, hopes catchy monikers will attract the attention of citizen scientists and prompt policy makers to include the species in bushfire recovery efforts.

"Soldier flies are valuable in the ecosystem," Lessard said in a statement. "The larvae recycle nutrients from dead plants and animals, while adults are pollinators of some Australian plants."

Describing and naming Australia's diverse creatures is also important to preventing diseases from being introduced into populations of healthy animals, the scientist said. 

"This year we identified an exotic species of mosquito, Culex tritaeniorhynchus, that can transmit Japanese encephalitis virus and was detected in Australia for the first time. It was initially mistaken for an undescribed native species," Lessard said.

The list of newly named species released by CSIRO also includes three elusive beetles named Binburrum articuno, Binburrum zapdos and Binburrum moltres after three hard-to-find Pokemon: Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres.

Opaluma rupaul, of course, has a message for all of its fellow newly named species: If you don't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?  

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