Why Was This Native New Zealand Wasp Named After Lucius Malfoy?
I’m sure a great many of you will remember that Sorting Hat spider, Eriovixia gryffindori, that was discovered in India’s Western Ghat mountain range, be it with admiration or disgust. Well, there’s been a repeat of the Harry Potter universe buzzing its way into the arthropod phylum in the form of a native New Zealand wasp. As a New Zealander myself, whose dad happens to be an entomologist, I was thrilled about the news – that is, until I learned who the wasp was named after and why.
This particular wasp was named Lusius malfoyi, after (surprise) Lucius Malfoy. Tom Saunders, the University of Auckland researcher who was responsible for the name, justified the namesake thus: “I used the name Lusius malfoyi because Malfoy is a character in the books with a bad reputation who is ultimately redeemed, and I’m trying to redeem the reputation of our native wasps.”
I’m totally on board with informing the public that wasps are not just evil, winged darts of seething fury, but for all Saunders’ research on New Zealand insects, I think he needs to do a bit more research on Harry Potter characters. Lucius Malfoy did not defect out of a sense of morality; he defected out of fear for his family. Sure, caring for his family is a great virtue, but we know from the eventual tension between Lucius and Draco over Astoria that Lucius never got over his blood supremacy hang-up. He just got sick of Voldemort. In my opinion, to say that Lucius had a redemption arc is quite a stretch.
I can think of several other characters who would have suited Saunders’ intentions far better, the most obvious one being Regulus Black. Regulus Black is a perfect, shining example of a bad character who completely turned himself around. Formerly a Death Eater (at a young age, I might add), he eventually became disenchanted with Voldemort and all he stood for and died while actively working to defeat him. Also, how cool a genus name would “Regulus” be?
I’m not a big Snape fan (please refrain from whipping out your pitchforks), but even Severus Snape would have been a better choice for a character who was ultimately redeemed. Despite having also been a Death Eater, Snape was instrumental in bringing down Voldemort. Even though his motivation was quite selfish, he was an invaluable asset to the Order and covertly fought against Voldemort until his dying breath.
Otherwise, if it had to be a Malfoy, it should have been Narcissa, who risked her life protecting Harry, even if it was ultimately for the same reason as Lucius’s actions – the drive to save her family, rather than any sense of compassion and justice.
I truly appreciate a researcher bringing the world of Harry Potter into the realm of native New Zealand wildlife, but looking at the name and why he chose it, I think he needs to sort out his priorities.