Dr Bryan Lessard names Australian fly species after American drag queen RuPaul

WION Web Team
Sydney Updated: Sep 15, 2021, 11:08 PM IST


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Dr Bryan Lessard, an entomologist, CSIRO's National Research Collections, Australia, has named a new Australian fly species after American drag queen RuPaul. This was the 50th species to be named by Lessard. The new species is part of a new Australian genus named Opaluma

Cultural icon RuPaul seems to have become the first drag queen to get forever enshrined as a soldier fly after Dr Bryan Lessard, an entomologist at CSIRO's National Research Collections Australia, named a new Australian fly species after him.  

It was the 50th species to be named by Lessard, who researches the taxonomy and evolution of medically important flies.   

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The new species, which is being called RuPaul fly now, is part of a new Australian genus named Opaluma (from the Latin words for opal and thorn) as they look like “little gems buzzing around the forest floor” and have a distinctive thorn tucked under their abdomen.  

As per the entomologist, the growing practice of naming insects after pop culture icons seems to have helped threatened species gain attention in response to environmental threats.  

Lessard said, “There’s a new wave of entomologists using pop culture to generate interest in our science and what we do, which is really exciting. It’s a great way of generating attention about why flies are important, to get as many people as possible talking about these species that need help, so they can be protected.”

“With bushfire recovery efforts, normally the interest goes to the cute and cuddly species like koalas, but a lot of the invertebrates don’t have any attention, and they’re the essential workers of our ecosystem … it’s really important we study them,” added Lessard.  

Naming the soldier fly Opaluma rupaul came as an “obvious decision”, said Lessard.   

“I was watching a lot of RuPaul’s Drag Race while examining the species and I know it would challenge RuPaul on the runway serving fierce looks. It has a costume of shiny metallic rainbow colours, and it has legs for days. I think once (Ru) sees the fly she’ll realise it’s quite fierce and hopefully appreciate the name,” Lessard said.