All you less glam insects, sashay away — there’s a new queen fly in town and it is the epitome of eleganza extravaganza.
The newly named Opulama rupaul, from the Latin words for “opal” and “thorn” and drag queen extraordinaire RuPaul, is taking the internet catwalk by storm. With an iridescently colored body, O. rupaul makes up one of 13 new soldier flies found in Australia and described for the first time in the September 2021 volume of the peer-reviewed journal, Austral Entomology.
While the name may seem a little extra, Bryan Lessard, a postdoctoral research fellow with the National Research Collections Australia, said in a news release that extravagant names can bring attention to species that may be facing external pressures. Two other soldier flies named in the study, Opaluma opulens and Antissella puprasina, are now recognized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as endangered species.
“Soldier flies are valuable in the ecosystem. The larvae recycle nutrients from dead plants and animals, while adults are pollinators of some Australian plants,” said Lessard.
And RuPaul isn’t the only one to receive international recognition for their new namesake. Three beetles were named for Pokémon characters Aricuno (Binburrum articuno), Zapdos (Binburrum zapdos), and Moltres (Binburrum moltres).
Aside from insects, other newly named species include a species of smoothhound shark (Mustelus andamanensis), four new species of rocky reef fishes, a gecko, and 28 species of plant known as Syzygium from New Guinea.
CSIRO. RuPaul Fly among Species Named by CSIRO. https://www.csiro.au/en/news/news-releases/2021/rupaul-fly-among-species-named-by-csiro. Accessed 17 Sept. 2021.
Lessard, Bryan D., et al. “Opaluma Lessard & Woodley, Gen. Nov: A New Genus of Iridescent Soldier Flies (Diptera: Stratiomyidae) from Australia, Including Seven New Species.” Austral Entomology, vol. 59, no. 3, 2020, pp. 467–86. Wiley Online Library, https://doi.org/10.1111/aen.12485.
“‘Rainbow Colours and Legs for Days’: Australian Fly Species Named after Drag Star RuPaul.” The Guardian, 15 Sept. 2021, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/15/rainbow-colours-and-legs-for-days-australian-fly-species-named-after-drag-star-rupaul.