Harry Potter villain Lucius Malfoy conjured the name of a new species of wasp

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Mar 26, 2021, 6:00 AM EDT (Updated)

Lucius Malfoy has now had his name redeemed again in a previously undiscovered species of parasitoid wasp.

If that sounds nightmarish, the wasp itself (which is stingless) probably isn’t nearly as scary as menacing Death Eater Lucius Malfoy from the Harry Potter series, who is guilty of opening the Chamber of Secrets that contained the deadly Basilisk, basically acting as Lord Voldemort’s right hand, and raising a son who snarls just as much as he does. Malfoy aided and abetted Voldemort until he finally defected from the evil mastermind’s army to save his own family.

There may be a spark of light in that heart of darkness—which is what inspired University of Auckland researcher Tom Saunders to name the New Zealand-native insect Lusius malfoyi.

"People see wasps as villains, as the 'bad guys.' But the truth is that the vast majority of wasp species are either neutral or beneficial, from a human standpoint,” Saunders told CNN. “Just as Lucius Malfoy is pardoned after separating from Voldemort's allies, I'm asking people to pardon wasps in order to restore their reputation as interesting, important creatures."

You might rather associate the evil reputation of Lucius Malfoy with something so sinister-looking, especially if you’re allergic to wasp venom, but Saunders is trying to cast a Lumos spell on what we think we know about these creatures.

Most of the 30,000 known species of wasp are either neutral or beneficial to humans—as in eating potentially disease-carrying pests like mosquitoes, which is also why you should never squash a non-poisonous spider. Non-stinging parasitoid wasps are even used as pest control in places where pesticides are not an option. Lusius malfoyi is proof that not all lifeforms that look frightening can necessarily sting or bite.

Saunders is optimistic that the story behind Lusius malfoyi will make people look beyond that freaky face and see something that is more like a creature of Dumbledore than Voldemort.

(via CNN)