Next year, give mom a gift she’ll never forget.

One of the most disheartening radio ads I hear is for a certain business that allows you to name a star for a loved one.  It’s disheartening, to me, because people actually pay $39 to have a star named, when it’s essentially a scam.  You want to name a star for somebody? I’ll do it for $20.  I’ll even give you a certificate, if you like. 

The thing is that I don’t have the authority to name stars “officially.”  Most stars have really boring official names:  Zeta Per, Beta TrA, Beta Ara, Alpha Hyi, Alpha Tuc, etc.  You just don’t see any Joan Q Public stars. 

Now a bug—THAT is the true gift of immortal scientific tribute.  When I worked for Sarasota County Mosquito Control, I encountered lots of insects named for famed entomologists: Aedes mitchelli, Anopheles bradleyi, Wyeomyia smithii.  An entomologist Far Side fan named an owl louse after its creator: Strigipholus garylarsoni.  Know who else has a bug named after him? Adolf Hitler (Anophthalmus hitleri (a blind Slovenian cave beetle)).  John Lennon and Ringo Starr are immortalized in scientific nomenclature, along with the Ramones, Simon & Garfunkel, Frank Zappa, and the Sex Pistols.  (see more celebrity bugs)

You can now add Neil Young to that distinguished rollcall.

Welcome to the world, Myrmekiaphila neilyoungi.  Next time you’re in Jefferson County, Alabama, look for one.  (They’re the spiders in the trapdoor genus, who tend to live in burrows and build trap doors to seal off their living quarters, and are distinguished from one species to the next on the basis of differences in genitalia–you know, like hippies.)   Crosby Stills & Nash are in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but Young is the only one in the Journal of Phylogenic Cladistics.

Want to impress mom next year? Nothing says “you’re the best mother in the whole wide world” quite like Arilus ilovemymommyi (a cousin of the caterpillar-eating wheelbug pictured above). 

On second thought, I can hear it now: "You did what? Named a nasty bug after me? Why can't you be more like your brother? He brought me flowers, took your father and me out to Red Lobster, and he gave me my very own star."

Mom never quite got me. (sniff)

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7 Responses to “Next year, give mom a gift she’ll never forget.”

  1. Eh, I'll pass. Given the number of spiders that eat their mates and sometimes their young, I don't think I wanna be honored with some relative of the black widow or wolf spider bearing my name.

  2. Haha! Bless you. Sorry though Tom, I'd prefer the star I think. Funny though, guffawed my hot cup of tea again. You may have to replace my keyboard soon 😉

  3. GAH! damn you and your bugs!!!! hehe.

  4. Ooooo, this is awesome!!! And hilarious! But, I love bugs. So, it would be a great honor to have….maybe a giant millipede named after me! :DWe had a giant millipede for five years and Pedey had the sweetest, wisest, kindest old soul any creature could have!

  5. Pedey? Really, Lauri, is it any mystery why I love you, ya sick freak? 😉 Professionally, I specialized in Culisidae (mosquitoes), but I've found Reduviidae (assassin bugs, wheel bugs, et al) to be especially cool, insect-wise (especially since they really freak out Grrrace). If I ever somehow discover a millipede, I'll name it after you–I promise. The guy who named the bug after Hitler in 1934 did so as a sort of slam–a blind Slovenian cave beetle, for cripes sake!–but Hitler was proud. What a douche. In the meantime…here's to Trigoniulus laurii, which I hereby christen as "The Lauripede."

  6. LOL! Oh, that is awesome!!! And, I DO love anyone who will call me a "sick freak". It's usually such a compliment! 😀

  7. I have to dig out some of Pedey's pictures! He was a lovely glossy black!

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