• A new treehopper bug species is named after Lady Gaga
  • K. Gaga represents a new species and a new genus
  • Treehoppers are often colorful and have unique ornamentations

A new treehopper bug species is named after singer Lady Gaga. The Kaikaia gaga (K. gaga) is not just a new species but it also represents a new treehopper genus.

Kaikaia Gaga

The species, now known as K. gaga, was just one of about 1,000 specimens that graduate student Brendan Morris borrowed from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History for his research. When he was getting a closer look at the specimen under a stereoscope, he noticed that its leg hairs were different from those of other tribes of treehoppers.

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

Kaikaia Gaga
Image: a new species of treehopper bug named after Lady Gaga. L. Brian Stauffer/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Interestingly, treehoppers are believed to have originated from the Americas. So, it is a mystery why K. gaga shares traits from both New World and Old World treehoppers. As such, Morris is planning to travel to Nicaragua, where the 30-year-old specimen was collected from, to see whether he can find other living members of the species so that he can perform further genetic research.


Morris describes treehoppers as the wackiest bugs that most people have not heard of. In fact, treehoppers are one of the most diverse insect groups on the planet, with many of them sporting bright colors and interesting forms such as distinctive features that look like horns, dead leaves, brightly colored flags or even fungi.

Treehoppers often sport interesting features and bright colors. Image: Examples of treehopper species with unique features. Gernot Kunz and Christopher Dietrich/University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Because of this and because of the specimen's interesting look, Morris decided to name the new species after musical performer Lady Gaga, who is famous for her flamboyant fashion sense.

"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. They're unlike anything you've ever seen before," Morris said.

This way, Morris is also shining a spotlight on the often overlooked insects, which are actually quite widespread in most forested parts of the world.

"Treehoppers are wacky, and I think that makes them especially suited to be 'spokesbugs' for the wide range of habitats they use," Morris said.

The paper describing K. gaga is published in the journal Zootaxa.