- Associated Press - Saturday, October 18, 2014

FARGO, N.D. (AP) - They may not be John, Paul, Ringo and George, but four of the less musical kind of beetle bear Allan Ashworth’s name. Now a non-beetle has joined the group (and no, it’s not Yoko).

Two Chilean researchers at North Dakota State University’s entomology laboratory recently identified a new species of damsel bug among the insects Ashworth collected during his many trips to their South American homeland. They named it “Nabis ashworthi” in honor of Ashworth, a retired distinguished professor of geology at the school who already has four beetle species named after him.

Entomology doctoral student Eduardo Faundez and research assistant Mariom Carvajal, a freshman majoring in microbiology, found the new species while working on projects about insects in Chile. Faundez described Ashworth’s collection as “extremely well-preserved” and said the damsel bug stood out because it resembled some Australian species.

“We decided to name the new species after Dr. Ashworth in recognition of his excellent collecting work and to thank him for making his collection available for our study so selflessly,” Faundez said. “His collection is amazing.”

There are more than 500 species of damsel bugs, which are soft-bodied, winged insects that are yellow to tan in color. They are seen as helpful insects for agriculture because they prey on many crop pests.

Ashworth said the insect was among his collections from a project funded by the National Science Foundation.

“I have long felt the collections would be valuable in the future as the insects’ habitats more often than not have been destroyed or disturbed by forest clearance for agriculture or by logging,” he said. “I’m delighted Eduardo and Mariom are finding the insect collections valuable for their studies. And, of course, I’m very flattered to have my name associated with this particular bug.

“The name will live on long after I’m gone, so in that respect I feel greatly honored,” he said.

It’s not an unusual gesture. Every type of organism that is discovered and becomes known to science is given a two-part Latinized name. The names are typically meant to describe the species, but researchers often name organisms after cohorts to recognize their scientific contributions.

“It’s rare enough that it’s still an honor if someone names something after you,” said NDSU entomology professor David Rider, who has one genus and nine species of bugs named after him.


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