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I want your stupid bug: Student names new kind of insect after Lady Gaga

Norbert Schoerner

Norbert SchoernerLady Gaga has inspired the name of a new classification of treehopper, an insect whose bizarre appearance includes bright colors and strange-looking things sticking out of it.

“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,” University of Illinois grad student Brendan Morris said. “They’re unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.”

Morris discovered the female treehopper, which he’s named Kaikaia gaga, while researching 1,000 specimens that were found nearly 30 years ago in a tropical forest near the coast of Nicaragua. It represents a new genus of treehopper.

The entomology student says he plans to travel to Nicaragua to see if he can find a living specimen of Kaikaia gaga, having failed to extract DNA from the 30-year-old dead one.

Morris, who published his findings with a co-author in the journal Zootaxa, says he wanted to bring attention to these overlooked insects, who sing to each other by vibrating plant stems.

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

Gaga would be proud.

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