A newly identified species of Australian soldier fly with a metallic rainbow coloring and “legs for days” has been named after international drag queen icon RuPaul.
Opaluma Rupaul is one of 150 animals named by the national scientific agency, CSIRO, and its partners over the past year.
It is part of a new genre that takes its name from the Latin words for opal and thorn, reflecting the group’s distinctive gem colors and abdominal thorn.
a Opaluma Rupaul specimen was collected over 100 years ago, but it was not identified as a species until National Research Collections Australia entomologist Bryan Lessard saw it a few years ago.
“I was watching a lot of drag racing while describing the species and for me it was a no-brainer,” said Dr. Lessard.
“It looked exactly like one of the outfits RuPaul would wear on the catwalk. It’s kind of a shiny metallic rainbow suit and it has legs for days.
RuPaul became a celebrity for producing and hosting an American reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Other species to give creative titles include hard-to-find beetles, Binburrum articuno, Binburrum zapdos and Binburrum moltres, named after the popular franchise Pokémon bird.
New plant borer weevil is named Demyrsus digmon after a fictional insectoid in a Japanese animated television series Digimon who pierces and manipulates the earth.
Dr Lessard said the names were chosen to give importance to the insects and help ensure their longevity.
He said identifying new species was vital to protect Australia’s biosecurity.
“This year, we have identified an exotic species of mosquito, Culex tritaeniorhynchus, which can transmit the Japanese encephalitis virus and was detected in Australia for the first time, ”said Dr Lessard.
“It was first mistaken for an undescribed native species.”
Thirteen new soldier flies have been identified, many of which live in areas affected by the Black Summer bushfires.
Two of them, Opaluma opulens and Antissella puprasina, are considered endangered and only exist in Lamington National Park, Queensland.
Opaluma Rupaul, which is about a centimeter long and lives near the forest floor, has only been found in Dalby and Toowoomba in south-eastern Queensland.
Dr Lessard said soldier flies play an important role in the ecosystem, as their larvae recycle nutrients from dead plants and animals.
He said investigations were underway in areas affected by the bushfires to determine how populations of soldier flies had been affected.