Today’s category on the runway is RuPaul-esque, glam soldier flies, and the next generation of LGBTQ+ scientists.
“If I fly or if I fall, least I can say I gave it all!”
Superstar and reigning monarch of drag, RuPaul, can now officially say she will fly forever after Australian entomologists name a species of soldier fly after the queen herself.
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) entomologist Bryan Lessard announced on Tuesday the soldier fly’s Latin name – Opaluma Rupaul – also known as “Bry the Fly Guy”.
Lessard was inspired by the species’ dramatic, rainbow colouring and glamorous long legs.
Speaking to CNN, Lessard noted, “I’d been watching a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race when I was examining the specimen under the microscope, so it was on my mind.”
Category is: new species extravaganza! Introducing the @RuPaul soldier fly, serving charisma and uniqueness, one of 150 new species named by @CSIRO in the last year! #csirocollections https://t.co/CMRbUODVqN pic.twitter.com/TCPNFGYUDo
— Dr Bryan Lessard (@BrytheFlyGuy) September 14, 2021
The nod to the drag community was also done with the intention to help tie together the LGBTQ and science communities.
“As a gay scientist, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin in a very traditional field of science — in entomology,” Lessard said.
“I think it’s really important for the next generation of LGBTQ+ scientists to know that they’re being represented in the workplace, as we give the names of legends in the community to memorable species.”
Ru Paul certainly approves:
— RuPaul (@RuPaul) September 15, 2021
Lessard’s choice to name the fly after the immediately recognisable star was also to bring much needed attention to a species that plays a crucial role in biodiversity, but is often overlooked for the cuter and more cuddly creatures like koalas.
Found in areas substantially affected by the 2019-20 bushfires, many of the 13 new soldier flies named by Lessard were in grave danger of suffering irreparable loss.
“These species would have burnt and no one would have cared if I hadn’t given them a name,” Lessard said. By giving them names no one can forget, the species.
The Opaluma Rupaul is not the only species boasting new, recognisable names!
CSIRO recently named approximately 150 new species, including three rare beetles; Binburrum articuno, Binburrum moltres and Binburrum zapdos. The decision was another nod to pop culture, as the beetles are named after three rare Pokémon: Articuno, Moltres and Zapdos.