This New Insect Species Was Named After Lady Gaga for Its 'Wacky Fashion Sense'

The wacky Kaikaia gaga is fashionably just designed to be rad.
The wacky Kaikaia gaga is fashionably just designed to be rad.
Courtesy of L. Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois News Bureau

There are a million reasons why we should be paying more attention to treehoppers, says University of Illinois entomology grad student Brendan Morris. That’s why Morris, who uses they/them pronouns, chose to name a new genus and species after Lady Gaga—they hoped the move would improve awareness of this unique but relatively unknown family of insects.

"Treehoppers include some of the most spectacularly beautiful and often quite bizarre bugs on the planet," Morris tells Mental Floss. "And they live almost everywhere that humans do, making them perfect candidates for a ladybug- or butterfly-level of appreciation." The findings were published in the journal Zootaxa.

The newly discovered treehopper species, now known as Kaikaia gaga, is one member of an incredibly diverse group of insects found on every continent except Antarctica. Treehoppers have long fascinated biologists who are intrigued by their unusualhelmets.”

“It blows my mind that a group that is roughly 40 million years old has so much diversity of form—diversity, I would argue, that we don’t see in any other family of insects,” Morris told the University of Illinois News Bureau. “If there is going to be a Lady Gaga bug, it’s going to be a treehopper, because they’ve got these crazy horns, they have this wacky fashion sense about them.”

K. gaga shares the distinctive horned thorax seen on many other treehoppers, but its unusual leg hairs make it clear it’s a separate species.

“Also, the frontoclypeus, which is kind of like the face, was shaped totally different,” Morris told the University of Illinois. “And the genitalia looked more like treehoppers from the Caribbean or this Old World group, Beaufortianini.”

Lady Gaga has yet to respond to the news. Morris hopes she'll take it as a compliment, finding admiration for K. gaga's "fierce, purplish face" and striking "'shoulder pad' horns."

Morris plans to search for living K. gaga treehoppers in an upcoming trip to Nicaragua, where the 30-year-old specimen they studied was originally found. Until then, they hope their discovery will bring renewed interest to these little monsters.

“Treehoppers are wacky, and I think that makes them especially suited to be ‘spokesbugs’ for the wide range of habitats they use,” Morris says.

[h/t University of Illinois News Bureau]

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Treat Your Feline This Holiday Season With Fancy Feast’s Cat Food Advent Calendar

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In anticipation of the holiday season, many children and adults get to unwrap mini presents each of the 24 days leading up to Christmas day, during what's known as Advent. Though Advent itself dates back to the 4th century, the version we know today, complete with the chocolate-filled calendars, was popularized in the early 1900s. And apparently it's no longer just for humans, because Fancy Feast is letting your feline roommate in on the fun with this unique cat food Advent calendar, now available at Chewy for $23.

For the 24 days leading up to Christmas, your cat will get to enjoy a variety of different wet foods, including favorites like grilled salmon, chicken, and more. There is even a unique ornament included with each calendar featuring a cat in the shape of a heart that can go right onto your tree. (Also, don't be surprised to find your actual cat making its way into the middle of your tree; they're known climbers.)

Now while you enjoy your Advent calendars from brands like LEGO, Funko, and more, your cat will be able to join in on the fun as well. To learn more about Fancy Feast's Feastivites Advent Calendar, head on over to Chewy.

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