A new species of moth has recently been discovered and was named after Donald Trump just days before his presidental inauguration. The new moth, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, gained its association with the then-President-elect due to its mop of yellow-white scales on top of its head.


Close-ups of Neopalpa donaldtrumpi. Credit: Dr. Vazrick Nazari

Dr Vazrick Nazari discovered the new species whilst examining twirler moth specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology, provided by the University of California at Davis. Dr Nazari noticed differences in the scales of some individuals, and after analysing the moths and comparing them with specimens from other institutions, it was confirmed that this was a new species of Neopalpa twirler moth. The exciting discovery was soon published in the open access journal ZooKeys.

N. donaldtrumpi At Risk

Dr Nazari hopes that naming this new moth after Trump will drum up publicity for the species and draw attention to the threats facing its fragile natural habitat: “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,” says Dr Nazari.

“By naming this species after the 45th President of the United States, I hope to bring some public attention to, and interest in, the importance of alpha-taxonomy in better understanding the neglected micro-fauna component of the North American biodiversity.”

Donald Trump isn’t the only White House resident to become the inspiration behind an organism’s official epithet. Researchers have also recently named a new species of basslet after President Barack Obama. As the only known locations of this new basslet species are the coral reefs in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in northwestern Hawaii, a nature reserve which was expanded into the world’s largest protected marine area under the presidency of Barack Obama, the tribute was only fitting. Obama also has the honour of sharing his name with at least nine other species and at least ten other US Presidents have been immortalised in animal form.


Vazrick Nazari. Review of Neopalpa Povolný, 1998 with description of a new species from California and Baja California, Mexico (Lepidoptera, Gelechiidae). ZooKeys, 2017; 646: 79 DOI: 10.3897/zookeys.646.11411


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