Hemiandrus jacinda: New wētā species named after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

The new species is Labour Party-red.
The new species is Labour Party-red. Photo credit: File Image / Twitter @Zootaxa

A scientist is naming a new species of wētā after Jacinda Ardern, an insect he says "reflected traits of the Prime Minister".

The new species is Labour-red in colour, glossy, long-limbed, and officially named Hemiandrus jacinda.

Steven Trewick, professor in evolutionary ecology at Massey University, and the scientist behind the naming honour says the new species, which reminded him of Ardern, was "striking". 

The Hemiandrus jacinda is glossy and long-limbed.
The Hemiandrus jacinda is glossy and long-limbed. Photo credit: Twitter @zootaxa

According to Dr Trewick's report in Zootaxa, jacinda is larger and more brightly coloured than any previously discovered species of wētā and can be found in native forests in Northland, Bay of Plenty, Waikato, and Coromandel. 

Trewick was shocked jacinda had managed to stay undiscovered for so long considering it was "not a small, cryptic beast but a hefty insect with flamboyant colouring", and had been found near densely-populated areas.

He says this suggests the insect is either "highly effective" at hiding or now exists at a "low density".

Ardern's office told The Guardian the Prime Minister was "aware" of the wētā with her name and was "honoured." 

According to a spokesperson, Ardern already has a beetle, lichen, and ant named after her, making the Hemiandrus jacinda the fourth insect named in her honour. 

Trewick says jacinda is likely already under threat as wētā are subject to many predators, such as rats and cats.