HOT OFF THE WIRE

Night King: Australia bee fly named after Game of Thrones villain

Night King: Australia bee fly named after Game of Thrones villain

  • 1 July 2019
Image copyright Alamy/CSIRO

A new species of bee fly in Australia has been named after Game of Thrones villain the Night King.

Paramonovius nightking was given its name because it thrives in winter, has a crown of spine-like hairs and turns other insects into "zombies", researchers said.

It is about 1cm long (0.3 inches) and can be found during the winter in a small area of Western Australia.

Some 230 new wildlife species have been named in Australia in the past year.

Paramonovius nightking was originally discovered in 2012 by a pair of "citizen scientists" in Wandoo National Park. Years later, Xuankun Li, a PhD student at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), confirmed that it was a new species.

  • Endangered kakapo parrot gets brain surgery
  • Game of Thrones finale gets mixed response
  • Black rhino dies on way to release in wild

CSIRO entomologist Dr Bryan Lessard said the decision to name the species after the villain from the hit HBO series came easily.

"Xuankun is a huge Game of Thrones fan, and wanted to thank the show for the hours of entertainment it's given him," he told the BBC.

"The bee fly has many similarities with the Game of Thrones character; they both are only found in winter and have a crown of thorn-like spines on their head. Female bee flies lay their eggs on other insects, which hatch and eat that insect from the inside out, turning them into walking zombies, just like the real Night King."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Game of Thrones villain shares several similarities with the newly-named bee fly

"If it's happened on a sci-fi or fantasy show, chances are that nature has done it first," Dr Lessard added.

Paramonovius nightking is part of a group of flies that look like bees. Scientists believe they have developed this way to avoid being eaten by birds, which know that bees sting.

There are more than 5,200 known species of bee flies around the world, but Dr Lessard says there are likely to be "many more" that are currently undocumented.