September 19, 2021
Australian entomologist Dr. Byran Lessard honored drag queen and legend RuPaul Charles by naming a soldier fly after the icon and shared the news on Twitter this month.
Dr. Byran Lessard, an entomologist from Australia, took to Twitter this month to share the exciting news that drag queen RuPaul Charles has been enshrined forever as a soldier fly.
Dr. Lessard is a part of CSIRO, Australia's national science agency. He and the agency have named 150 new pieces of Australian insects and animals as they worked to document and name all unnamed Australian species.
The entomologist shared the exciting news on Twitter with a side-by-side photo of the iconic drag queen and the soldier fly. Dr. Lessard was wise to choose a picture of RuPaul wearing a gown similar in color to the fly.
The fly has a colorful exoskeleton and looks like a moving rainbow as it has shades of blue, green, yellow, and red. Alongside the photos of RuPaul and the soldier fly, Dr. Lessard shared:
"Category is: new species extravaganza! Introducing the @RuPaul soldier fly, serving charisma and uniqueness,..."
RuPaul's specific soldier fly was named Opaluma RuPaul and is a part of the Australian genus, Opaluma. The name is derived from the Latin words opal and throne.
This is because the insect looks like a shimmering jewel and has a distinctive thorn under its abdomen. The RuPaul fly is the 50th species to be named by Dr. Lessard.
The scientist also revealed that the insects' appearance helped him decide.
The entomologist previously made headlines and received criticism from other taxonomists after naming another fly after singer Beyonce in 2011. However, he explained there is a reason he chose to name the insects after pop culture icons.
The practices of naming species after cultural icons helped raise awareness and bring attention to environmental threats such as climate change. Dr. Lessard shared his excitement about this as he said:
"There’s a new wave of entomologists using pop culture to generate interest in our science and what we do, which is really exciting."
Dr. Lessard also explained how he chose the name. He told CNN that he had been watching a lot of RuPaul's show, "RuPaul's Drag Race," when he examined the species, so the icon's name was on his mind.
The scientist also revealed that the insects' appearance helped him decide. It has long legs and a gorgeous exoskeleton with simmering rainbow colors, so RuPaul was a perfect choice.
He wanted to give the insect a memorable name as the species needed the attention. He further explained that the species was discovered 100 years ago and sat neglected until someone with the correct knowledge came to name it.
Dr. Lessard stated that he hopes the name will help to tie the LGBT+ community and pop culture with entomology and science. He expressed the importance that the next generation of LGBT+ will see they are represented in the field.
July 11, 2021