Today, Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States; earlier this week, it was announced that he had also been honored as the namesake as a new moth species. Recently discovered to inhabit a range running from Baja, Mexico, to Southern California, the new, so-called “Donald Trump moth” is most notable for what’s on its head.
"The moth is native to California & Baja Mexico (Trump’s proposed border wall won’t stop this flyer’s migration)." https://t.co/HYNczAFpOb
— Ed Yong (@edyong209) January 18, 2017
Specifically, as Scientific American reports, the new Donald Trump moth, officially titled Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, has a head of blondish hair-like scales that resemble Trump’s “is it a wig or isn’t it” signature hairdo. In the scientific journal article published Tuesday, Vazrick Nazari (who named the Trump moth), described the newly discovered insect, adding that much of the moth’s natural habitat will put the little critter right along Trump’s planned border wall.
According to Nazari, the new Donald Trump moth is actually the second known species of twirly moths, and it is easily identifiable, even to the novice, because of its Trump-like coif, which is really a bunch of distinctive scales that develop in mature moths of the species.
“The specific epithet is selected because of the resemblance of the scales on the frons (head) of the moth to Mr. Trump’s hairstyle.”
The evolutionary biologist went on to say that he hoped the Trump moth’s highly-recognizable name, a name shared with the controversial reality TV star-turned-dark horse politician, could bring protection to the newly discovered moth. It was indeed no coincidence that that Trump moth was named during the same week that Trump took the Oath of Office.
“The reason for this choice of name is to bring wider public attention to the need to continue protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. that still contain many undescribed species.”
— ABC News (@ABC) January 20, 2017
In addition to its all-too-familiar, Trump-esque hairdo, the newly-named Trump moth also has another distinguishing feature, reports IFLScience. However, this second feature may be much for difficult for the naked, untrained eye to discern. Namely, the male Trump moth has disproportionately small genitals when compared to its closest relation.
The moth itself is a little guy, its wings spanning a mere 7-12 millimeters when fully mature, but the size of the new Trump moth’s genitals are so much smaller than that of N. neonata, its closest known relative, that Dr. Nazari realized he was dealing with a completely separate moth species.
As such, he decided to honor the then president-elect by naming the new species, with it’s white-yellow “hair,” after Donald Trump.
“The discovery of this distinct micro-moth in the densely populated and otherwise zoologically well-studied southern California underscores the importance of conservation of the fragile habitats that still contain undescribed and threatened species, and highlights the paucity of interest in species-level taxonomy of smaller faunal elements in North America.”
— Abby Normal (@satankfem) January 18, 2017
@Strange_Animals a disrespect to the moth!
— CupFakke (@RegalDogma) January 20, 2017
@ABC Does this moth lie constantly?
— U.S. Citizen (@shitdrumpfsez) January 20, 2017
@PinkNews Well, there goes their Federal grant.
— Deb Herman (@HermanDHerman) January 19, 2017
According to Nazari’s tweet, he was hopeful that the naming of the new Trump moth could prompt the incoming president to embark on conservation efforts. Unfortunately for the evolutionary biologist, he may not get his wish. Just hours into his fledgling presidency, Donald Trump has made some notable changes to WhiteHouse.gov. As The Daily Beast reports, either Trump, or someone on his team, has scrubbed all mention of LGBTQ rights and (perhaps more importantly to the man behind the new Trump moth), climate change from the site’s “Issues” page.
“The page on climate change was replaced with a page entitled ‘An America First Energy Plan’ that ignores climate change entirely and says, ‘President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.’
While the U.S. and the world struggle to come to terms with the changes being wrought by the 45th president, it is worth noting that Trump isn’t the first president to be honored by having an animal named after him.
This new moth species, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, is named after Donald Trump to bring attention to protecting fragile habitats in the U.S. pic.twitter.com/sV2dWqxafZ
— AJ+ (@ajplus) January 17, 2017
George W. Bush was honored by lending his John Hancock to a species of slime beetle. Somewhere out there, there’s a fish swimming with Bill Clinton’s moniker attached to it. Ronald Reagan is namesake to a wasp. However, outgoing president Obama, with his lauded focus on conservation and the environment, was honored nine times as his name was lent to different species’ of animals. The most recent was a Hawaiian fish named after the 44th president, after Obama worked tirelessly and diligently to protect the creature’s natural habitat.
What are your thoughts on the new Trump moth? Do you believe it was an esteemed honor for the incoming president to lend his name and hair to a newly discovered moth? Do you think that the naming of the Trump moth may inspire Donald to protect the insect’s natural environment, and possibly even the environments of other indigenous species?
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]