Donald Trump isn’t even sworn in as president yet, but he already has a species named after him: a micro-moth with a bushy head of yellowish-white scales.
Neopalpa donaldtrumpi is found in a habitat that, ironically, stretches across the U.S.-Mexico border – from California to Baja California. Biologists have long known that twirler moths inhabited the region, but until recently, they thought there was only one species in the genus.
Canadian evolutionary biologist Vazrick Nazari discovered that wasn’t the case when he examined insect specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California at Davis. A few of the moth specimens didn’t match the description for Neopalpa neonata.
Among the distinguishing features for the outliers were yellowish-white scales on the moth’s head, and an orange-yellow coloration on the upper side of the forewing. The scales reminded Nazari of Trump’s signature comb-over, and led him to go with “donaldtrumpi” as the species name.
Nazari’s findings were published online today by the open-access journal ZooKeys.
In his paper, Nazari said he hoped naming the moth after Trump would “bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. that still contain many undescribed species.”
Before today, the best-known animal with a Trump connection was the “Donald Trump caterpillar,” also known as the flannel moth caterpillar or Megalopyge opercularis, which sports a luxurious layer of yellow venomous spines.
The creature has also been nicknamed the “furry puss caterpillar” … um, because it looks like a cuddly long-haired kitty cat.
Trump can take some presidential pride in joining the ranks of leaders with species named after them, such as Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan. But that doesn’t ensure that history will be kind to his legacy, or to the moth. After all, there’s also a blind cave beetle that’s known as Anophthalmus hitleri, and an ant named Camponotus mussolinii.