Looking for that last minute Christmas present? How about dedicating an insect to someone you love? I may seem like an odd gift, but there's museum in Yolo County willing to let you name one.
For the past six years, The Bohart Museum of Entomology at UC Davis has been allowing the general public to purchase names for bugs. You may think a beetle is a beetle, or a butterfly is a butterfly, but that's not the case for museum scientist Steven Heydon.
"The reason we name things is because that is a hook that you can hang all the information about that bug on," said Heydon.
The museum actually has a lot of insects to name and not enough names to go around.
"There are 1.2 or 1.3 million described species of insects and we think there is somewhere between 5 and 8 million out there," Heydon said.
There is a lot of freedom when naming an insect. A biologist named a moth after president Trump. It’s called the Neopalpa donaldtrumpi. The moth was discovered at the U.S. and Mexico border in a fragile habitat. Evolutionary biologist Dr. Vazrick Nazari dissected several of the moths and he noticed that three specimens had a distinct wing pattern and unique DNA profile. He chose the name in part to bring awareness to fragile habitats that may contain undiscovered species.
You may think this is silly, but when you scientifically publish an insect's name it lives on forever. Naming a bug is simple. Look at the museum's online catalog, pick out your favorite bug, and call the museum. Insect names will cost you anywhere from $300 to $500 dollars. The proceeds go to funding the Bohart Museum.
That may seem like a lot of money, but naming mammals or reptiles will cost you upwards of $20,000.
"In the scientific literature you can look it up and see if anyone has researched it. So, it's an honest to goodness thing," said Heydon.
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