insect species named after famous people

11 insect-like critters named after famous folks

You’ve probably seen it before: Latin or scientific names of creatures that follow the common names we use every day. Have you ever wondered how those scientific names come about?

In the scientific world, the process of classifying and naming animals, insects, birds, fish, bacteria and germs, and other living things is called taxonomy. Although it might SOUND like it could be a snooze-fest, taxonomy can sometimes have a sense of humor.

Scientists and researchers often like to have a little fun with those Latin names by naming their discoveries after famous people. Check out these 10 insects, arachnids, and arthropods named after celebrities – and the reasons behind them.  

Image courtesy of Arizona State University

Stephen Colbert – Beetle (Agaporomorphus colberti)

Late night talk show host and humorist Colbert actually has a number of creatures named after him including a spider, wasp, stonefly, and beetle. It all started with the spider: Aptostichus stephencolberti. Colbert made a public plea to the scientific community to have something “cooler than a spider” named after him. These scientists responded with a beetle because, according to them, beetles are ‘way cooler’ than a spider any day.”

 

insect species named after famous people
Image courtesy of Hendrik Freitag / Taxon Expeditions

Leonardo DiCaprio – Beetle (Grouvellinus leonardodicaprioi)

Discovered by “citizen scientists” in Malaysia, this beetle was named after the famous actor in homage to the work he does for environmental protection.

 

 

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy – Cicadas (Baeturia laureli and Baeturia hardyi)

Most people in the U.S. know the distinctive “song” of the cicada – a buzzing hum created by the creatures. These two species of cicada are quite similar, so they were named after the comedic team of Laurel and Hardy, known for their slapstick comedy and singing routines.

 

insect species named after famous people
Image courtesy of CSIRO Science Image

Beyoncé – Fly (Scaptia beyonceae)

Her nickname might be Queen B, but Beyoncé’s namesake, in this case, is a fly found in Queensland, Australia. It was discovered in 1981, but didn’t get a proper name until 2011, when researcher Bryan Lessard named it due to a swath of dense golden hair that reminded him of the singer.

 

James Brown – Mite (Funkotriplogynium iagobadius)

Brown was infamous for his dancing, spinning, funky style on stage. The Latin name of this mite, found in the tropical and subtropical rainforests of Queensland, Australia, reflects “Funk” and “iagobadius” is a literal translation of James Brown – “iago” is James in Latin, “badius” is brown.

 

insect species named after famous people
Image courtesy of Vazrick Nazari—ZooKeys

Donald Trump – Moth (Neopalpa donaldtrumpi)

Found in Southern California and Northern Mexico, Canadian scientist Vazrick Nazari named the moth in 2017, stating that the scales on the moth’s head resembled the President’s hairstyle.

 

 

The Dalai Lama – Moth (Dalailama)

Found in Tibet, this species of moth was named after Tibet’s most famous, peaceful resident: The Dalai Lama.

 

Johnny Cash – Spider (Aphonopelma johnnycashi)

This species of tarantula was discovered in the area near Folsom Prison, where singer Johnny Cash – known as “The Man in Black” – served time and is the namesake of his famous song, “Folsom Prison Blues.” The spider earned its name because it aligns with Cash’s nickname. The male of the species is generally all black.

 

Tobey Maguire – Spider (Filistata maguirei)

This arachnid got its name because Maguire starred in Sam Raimi’s three Spider-Man movies released in 2002, 2004, and 2006. But don’t worry, you probably won’t run into this web-slinging spider unless you’re a world traveler: it’s only found in Iran.

 

insect species named after famous people
Image courtesy of Eduardo Mitio Shimbori, Scott Richard Shaw

Shakira – Wasp (Aleiodes shakirae)

This parasitic wasp lays its eggs in the bodies of caterpillars, causing the caterpillar to contort and bend in unnatural ways. The scientist behind this discovery thought the movements of the caterpillar resembled Shakira’s belly-dancing and that’s how this wasp earned its name.

 

 

Steve Irwin – Snail (Crikey steveirwini)

This air-breathing land snail is found in Queensland, Australia’s rainforests. A noted animal enthusiast and conservationist prior to his death, one of Irwin’s favorite exclamation was “Crikey!” The scientist named the snail in his honor as a tribute to Irwin’s work.

 

Whether your pest problem is with one of these or any other, the pest control experts at Western Exterminator can help. Contact us today to have one of our specialists come out to your property.

Krissie Callahan

As the Communications Manager for Rentokil North America, Krissie specializes in writing, editing, and shaping both internal and marketing messages for the company. When she's not at work, you can usually find her taking in a live music performance in her hometown of Charlotte, NC.

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