15 Bugs Named After Politicians
When it comes to honorific gestures made for politicians, getting a city named after you is probably at the top of the tribute hierarchy (hello, Washington, D.C.). International airports or aircraft carriers aren't too shabby, either, and any president worth his or her salt should have a few high schools thrown their way (good luck finding a Richard M. Nixon College Prep).
But where do bugs come in? Entomologists get to name their discoveries, and many have used the opportunity to give homage to political leaders. If you can't get an airport named after you, a slime-mold beetle is a pretty decent consolation prize.
1. LITURGUSA ALGOREI // AL GORE
This praying mantis discovered near the Amazon in Peru is named after Al Gore. The find—one of 19 new species of mantis—was announced in 2014 and named after the former vice president for his environmental work.
2. CALIGULA // GAIUS JULIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS GERMANICUS (A.K.A. "CALIGULA")
This genus of moth found in Asia doesn't hold incest-rife orgies and rarely shows signs of clinical insanity, so naming it after the Roman emperor seems like an odd choice.
3. ANELOSIMUS NELSONI // NELSON MANDELA
This South African cobweb spider was named to honor the country's former president. It's part of a genus commonly found in America [PDF], though nelsoni is one of a bunch of new species that were discovered in Africa or Southeast Asia; others include Anelosimus biglebowski and Anelosimus dude—entomologists are big fans of the Coen brothers film, apparently.
4. LINCOLNA // ABRAHAM LINCOLN
This parasitic Australian wasp was discovered in 1940 and is named for the 16th president of the United States. A fitting tribute to the greatest leader in American history.
5. APTOSTICHUS BARACKOBAMAI // BARACK OBAMA
Auburn University entomologist Jason Bond discovered this new species of trapdoor spider in 2012 and named it after President Obama. "It’s difficult for me to envision a higher honor,” Bond told the Washington Post. "In science, there are few things that we do as scientists that has the permanency that taxonomy does.”
6. ALLENDIA CHILENSIS // SALVADORE ALLENDE
Allendia chilensis is a patronym for Salvadore Allende, the Chilean president who died during a 1973 coup. A ground beetle, this bug was first found in Chile in the 1970s.
7. AGRA SCHWARZENEGGERI // ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER
Nit-pickers can argue Schwarzenegger was technically not yet a politician when this beetle was discovered in 2002 [PDF]—he was still a year away from winning a special election to become governor of California. But how could we leave out this species who earned its name because of its "markedly developed (biceps-like) middle femora"?
8. PHEIDOLE ROOSEVELTI // THEODORE ROOSEVELT
Pheidole roosevelti, or "Roosevelt's ant," was discovered in Fiji in 1921 by W.M. Mann. In his report [PDF], Mann says he named the species after "the late Col. Theodore Roosevelt," though its "feebly convex sides" are nothing like the stout former president.
9-12. HELLINSIA AGUILERAI, ALFAROI, MORENOI, AND SUCREI // JAIME ROLDOS AGUILERA, JOSÉ ELOY ALFARO DELGADO, GABRIEL GARCÍA MORENO, AND ANTONIO JOSÉ DE SUCRE
A slew of new moth species were found in Ecuador and classified in 2011 [PDF], and the scientists who discovered them gave each a title tied to the region's history: Hellinsia aguilerai is named for Ecuadorian President Jaime Roldos Aguilera, who died in a plane crash in 1981; H. alfaro is named after another Ecuadorian president, Jose Eloy Alfaro Delgado, who was assassinated in 1912; H. morenoi is for Gabriel García Moreno, assassinated in 1875; and H. sucrei is classified in honor of Antonio José de Sucre, the second president of Bolivia, cited in the entomologists' abstract as someone "crucial in achieving the freedom of several South American countries."
13-15. AGATHIDIUM BUSHI, CHENYI, AND RUMSFELDI // GEORGE W. BUSH, DICK CHENEY, AND DONALD RUMSFELD
These three species of slime-mold beetles were discovered in 2005 by entomologists Quentin Wheeler and Kelly B. Miller, who chose to name them after George W. Bush, his vice president, and his secretary of defense. The beetles feed on fungilike mold, and Wheeler wrote that he named them after the politicians because they "have the courage of their convictions and are willing to do the very difficult and unpopular work of living up to principles of freedom and democracy rather than accepting the expedient or popular." Bush called Wheeler to thank him, saying he was "honored."