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Wild-haired moth named after Donald Trump

Neopalpa donaldtrumpi
Two views of the moth now known as Neopalpa donaldtrumpi highlight the yellowish-white scales on its head. (Vazrick Nazari Photo via ZooKeys / Pensoftbiolo

Donald Trump isn’t even sworn in as president yet, but he already has a species named after him: a micro-moth with a bushy head of yellowish-white scales.

Neopalpa donaldtrumpi is found in a habitat that, ironically, stretches across the U.S.-Mexico border – from California to Baja California. Biologists have long known that twirler moths inhabited the region, but until recently, they thought there was only one species in the genus.

Canadian evolutionary biologist Vazrick Nazari discovered that wasn’t the case when he examined insect specimens from the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California at Davis. A few of the moth specimens didn’t match the description for Neopalpa neonata.

Among the distinguishing features for the outliers were yellowish-white scales on the moth’s head, and an orange-yellow coloration on the upper side of the forewing. The scales reminded Nazari of Trump’s signature comb-over, and led him to go with “donaldtrumpi” as the species name.

Nazari’s findings were published online today by the open-access journal ZooKeys.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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