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Illustration by Rebecca O'Connell // Ant head via Smithsonian FB page, Roosevelt thorax via Public Domain

15 Bugs Named After Politicians

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Illustration by Rebecca O'Connell // Ant head via Smithsonian FB page, Roosevelt thorax via Public Domain

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

Drawing by Frances Fawcett // Cornell.edu

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."

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Which Rooms In Your Home Have the Most Types of Bugs, According to Entomologists 
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Insects can make any home their own, so long as it contains cracks, doors, and windows for them to fly, wriggle, or hitchhike their way in. And it turns out that the creepy crawlers prefer your living room over your kitchen, according to a new study that was recently highlighted by The Verge.

Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study looked at 50 homes in Raleigh, North Carolina, to measure their insect populations. Entomologists from both North Carolina State University and the California Academy of Sciences ultimately discovered more than 10,000 bugs, both alive and dead, and a diverse array of species to boot.

The most commonly observed bugs were harmless, and included ladybugs, silverfish, fruit flies, and book lice. (Luckily for homeowners, pests like bedbugs, termites, and fleas were scarcer.) Not all rooms, though, contained the same distribution of many-legged residents.

Ground-floor living rooms with carpets and windows tended to have the most diverse bug populations, as the critters had easy access inside, lots of space to live in, and a fibrous floor habitat that could be either a cozy homestead or a death trap for bugs, depending on whether they got stuck in it. The higher the floor level, the less diverse the bug population was, a fact that could be attributed to the lack of doors and outside openings.

Types of bugs that were thought to be specific to some types of rooms were actually common across the board. Ants and cockroaches didn’t limit themselves to the kitchen, while cellar spiders were present in all types of rooms. As for moths and drain flies, they were found in both common rooms and bathrooms.

Researchers also found that “resident behavior such as house tidiness, pesticide usage, and pet ownership showed no significant influence on arthropod community composition.”

The study isn’t representative of all households, since entomologists studied only 50 homes within the same geographical area. But one main takeaway could be that cohabiting bugs “are an inevitable part of life on Earth and more reflective of the conditions outside homes than the decisions made inside,” the researchers concluded. In short, it might finally be time to make peace with your itty-bitty housemates.

[h/t The Verge]

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environment
UK Agrees to Ban Pesticides That Destroy Bee Populations
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As bee populations around the globe continue to dwindle, more countries are stepping up to save them. The latest nation taking action against the threat of pollinator decline is Britain. The UK’s environment secretary Michael Gove recently announced that the country will join the European Union in restricting a type of pesticide harming bees.

The decision was made in light of a German study reporting that the number of flying insects in some areas have declined by 75 percent in just a quarter of a decade. Of the species dying off en masse, bees are the most concerning: The insects pollinate a significant portion of our crops, and without them humans could face an agricultural crisis. “These particular flying insects are absolutely critical to the health of the natural world,” Gove wrote for The Guardian. “Without a healthy pollinator population we put the whole ecological balance of our world in danger.”

The alarming state of bee populations is likely a mix of several factors, but human-made insecticides are one of the biggest contributors. Neonicotinoids, the chemical compounds covered by the proposed ban, are the most commonly used insecticides on Earth, and they’ve also been shown to have devastating effects on bee colonies. Getting rid of them completely was first proposed by the European Union in 2013, and after initially opposing the move, the UK is finally getting on board.

Neonicotinoids are slowly being phased out in the U.S., where beekeepers have been reporting bees disappearing from their hives for the last decade or so. If you want to make your backyard a more hospitable place for your tiny, flower-loving neighbors, here are some ways you can help right now.

[h/t The Guardian]

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