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14 Great Names for Bugs

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Scientists have a sense of humor just like the rest of us. The difference is that a scientist's jokes are sometimes enshrined in the body of knowledge for eternity, or close to it. One of the ways they do this is naming things that previously had no name, like insect species. A little leeway in Latin goes a long way when classifying insects, because there are way more insect species than there are existing words in lost languages. That's when things can get interesting. Meet some bugs with names that make you go "huh?"

1. Enema Pan

Enema Pan is a type of rhinoceros beetle found in Mexico, Central America, and South America. It was named by entomologist Johan Christian Fabricius, who studied under Carl Linnaeus, the inventor of modern taxonomy. One gets the impression that Fabricius was seeing how far he could go with this species-naming plan. Photograph by Flickr user Udo Schmidt.

2-4. Star Wars Wasps

Three species of apoid wasps are named Polemistus chewbacca, Polemistus vaderi, and Polemistus yoda. Renowned entomologist and Star Wars fan Arnold S. Menke gave the first two those names in 1983, and P. yoda was named by fellow entomologist Charles Vincent in the same year, which brought more attention to these bugs than other tiny and rare wasps ever get.

5. Pison Eu

Little wasp

Arnold Menke was also responsible for naming the Central American wasp called Pison eu in 1988. The genus Pison can be pronounced different ways, depending on whether you are referring to Pison eu or Pison eyvae, which was also named by Menke in 1988. The picture here shows a different but related species of Pison. Photograph by Flickr user dracophylla.

6-8. Musical Chiggers

Trombicula is a genus of mites that we call chiggers in their larval stage. Trombicula doremi as well as Trombicula fasola were named by scientists Brennan and Beck in 1955, which was actually before the song was written for the 1959 Broadway musical The Sound of Music. However, the notes of the major scale were commonly known by those solfège syllables. The chigger named Trombicula fujigmo is an acronym of the military slang for "F--- you, Jack, I got my orders."

9. Villa Manillae

Entomologist Neal L. Evenhuis named a species of Villa fly in 1993. The name he selected was Villa manillae. I'm sure he was in no way influenced by the name of the pop music duo Milli Vanilli who won a Grammy in 1990, which was rescinded when the pair was outed as a lip-synching act.

10. Tabanus Nippontucki


Tabanus
is a genus of horseflies. The particular species T. nippontucki was named by entomologist Cornelius B. Philip in 1941. Sources say it was named during, or about, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but I found no available documentation about that. Photograph by Christin Hardy/Tabanid PEET Project, USDA/ARS/SEL Entovision System.

11. Eubetia Bigaulae

Eubetia bigaulae is a moth from the family Tortricidae. The species is pronounced "you betcha by golly." For that we can thank Smithsonian entomologist John Brown, who discovered the species in Venezuela in 1999.

12-13. Heerz Tooya and Heerz Lukenatcha

Heerz is a genus of parasitic moth found in Mexico. Heerz tooya was first described by Paul Marsh in 1993. He is the same scientist who named the species Heerz lukenatcha, which is pictured above. So far, there is no species named Heerz johnni, but that should be next.

14. Verae Peculya

Ichneumon?

A Brazilian species of parasite wasp in the family Braconidae is named Verae peculya, designated so by Paul Marsh in 1993. How peculiar is it? So peculiar I couldn't find a picture of one, so here's another wasp of the Braconidae family. Photograph by Flickr user bramblejungle.

See also: 9 Spiders and the Stars They Were Named For, Schwarzenegger Beetles (and other celebrity species), and 10 Animals Named After Celebrities.

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crime
German Police Tried to Fine Someone $1000 for Farting at Them
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In Berlin, passing gas can cost you. Quite a lot, actually, in the case of a man accused of disrespecting police officers by releasing a pair of noxious farts while being detained by the police. As CityLab reports, Berlin’s police force has recently been rocked by a scandal hinging on the two farts of one man who was asked to show his ID to police officers while partying on an evening in February 2016.

The man in question was accused of disrespecting the officers involved by aiming his flatulence at a policewoman, and was eventually slapped with a fine of 900 euros ($1066) in what local media called the "Irrer-Pups Prozess," or "Crazy Toot Trial." The errant farter was compelled to show up for court in September after refusing to pay the fine. A judge dismissed the case in less than 10 minutes.

But the smelly situation sparked a political scandal over the police resources wasted over the non-crime. It involved 18 months, 23 public officials, and 17 hours of official time—on the taxpayers’ dime. Officials estimate that those two minor toots cost taxpayers more than $100, which is chump change in terms of city budgets, but could have been used to deal with more pressing criminal issues.

[h/t CityLab]

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In 1909, a Door-to-Door Catnip Salesman Incited a Riot in New York
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In 1909, New York City businessman G. Herman Gottlieb was looking for a way to make a quick buck. He found it in a wooded section of Northern Manhattan, where wild catnip grew. After harvesting two baskets full of the plant, Gottlieb headed downtown to Harlem, intending to sell the product to residents with pampered felines.

As the history blog The Hatching Cat recounts, what Gottlieb didn’t know was that the neighborhood was also home to plenty of feral cats with voracious appetites. As Gottlieb made his way around the neighborhood, a handful of stray cats seized upon some leaves that had fallen out of his basket and began writhing and rolling around on the ground. Soon, even more kitties joined in, and “jumped up at his baskets, rubbed themselves against his legs, mewing, purring, and saying complimentary things about him,” according to an August 19, 1909 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Gottlieb tried to frighten the cats away, according to The Washington Times’s account of the event, but the persistent animals wouldn’t budge. “All of them, rich and poor, aristocrats from the sofa cushions near the front windows and thin plebians from the areaways struggled mightily to get into the two baskets of catnip,” the Times wrote. Soon, Gottlieb found himself surrounded by somewhere between 30 and 40 cats, each one of them clamoring for his goods.

When he eventually spotted a policeman, Gottlieb thought he’d found an ally against the cats. Instead, Sergeant John F. Higgins promptly arrested Gottlieb for inciting a crowd. (“Why don’t you arrest the catnip?” Gottlieb asked him, according to the Times. “That is collecting the crowd. Not I.”)

Trailed by several cats, Higgins and Gottlieb made their way to a police station on East 104th Street. But when they arrived, authorities couldn’t decide whether or not the salesman had actually broken any laws.

“We can’t hold this man,” Lieutenant Lasky, the officer who received the arrest report, said. “The law says a man must not cause a crowd of people to collect. The law doesn’t say anything about cats.”

“The law doesn’t say anything about people,” Higgins replied. “It says ‘a crowd.’ A crowd of cats is certainly a crowd.” Amid this debate, a station cat named Pete began fighting with the invading felines, and, with the help of some policemen, eventually drove the catnip-hungry kitties out of the building.

Gottlieb was eventually released, and even driven home in a patrol wagon—all while being chased by a few lingering cats, still hot on the trail of his now regrettable merchandise.

[h/t The Hatching Cat]

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