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Lady Gaga
Image: picture alliance/dpa/F. von Erichsen

New insect species named after Lady Gaga

Elizabeth Grenier
March 11, 2020

The new Lady Gaga bug is a wacky-looking treehopper. The performer with an extravagant style is not the first one to have inspired names for newly-discovered species.


"Treehoppers are the wackiest, most astonishing bugs most people have never heard of," said Brendan Morris, a University of Illinois PhD entomology student who named a newly discovered treehopper species after Lady Gaga, a performer renowned for her own flamboyant, shape-shifting style.

The Kaikaia gaga has unique features distinguishing it from other treehoppers, according to Morris, who analyzed roughly 1,000 treehopper species from Pittsburgh's Carnegie Museum of Natural History for research. The newly described species was found near the Pacific coast of Nicaragua.

Treehoppers are one of the most diverse insect groups on the planet: "I love outrageous forms and colors," Morris said in statement. "It blows my mind that a group that is roughly 40 million years old has so much diversity of form — diversity, I would argue, that we don't see in any other family of insects." 

Read more: Germany's prettiest cow, Lady Gaga, dies

Researchers have often named their newly discovered species after celebrities. While the gallery above looks into a few of the musician-inspired names, the trend is not new. A wasp was first named after Johann Sebastian Bach in 1928, another one after Beethoven in 1932, and Mozart inspired the name of a newly-discovered crustacean in 1976.

Renowned personalities, from actors to politicians, have also inspired entomologists to christen their discoveries.

Teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg has a namesake snail, the Craspedotropis gretathunbergae, which is particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Former US President Barack Obama had a spider named after him in 2012 and a fish in 2016. 

One species of beetle first documented in 1933 was dedicated to Adolf Hitler shortly after he became Chancellor of Germany. Taxonomic tradition is against changing registered names of organisms, which is why this blind cave beetle kept its designation after World War II. It is, however, putting the beetle in danger of extinction; its name makes it an item of particular interest to collectors of Hitler memorabilia. 

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