R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe has given his blessing to a leading German entomologist and who wished to name a new ant species after his late friend, the renowned artist and political activist Charles Ayers.
Strumingenys ayersthey is named after Ayers, who was one of Andy Warhol’s closest friends. In a celebration of gender diversity, the name uses the suffix ‘they’.
The ant was initially discovered in the Ecuadorian rainforest by Entomologist Phillip Hoenle, who subsequently sent a specimen to Yale University research associate Douglas B. Booher, who was able to confirm it was a new species.
In turn, Booher reached out to Stipe to seek his blessing to name the species after his late friend.
Ayers was a renowned songwriter and co-wrote hits such as The B-52’s 1979 track ’52 Girls’ before his eventual death. Stipe also honoured him with the ‘Jeremy Dance’ project at technology event Moogfest.
“His curiosity for every single person he ever met was the foundation of a fascinating and cross-cultural network of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues, often with Jeremy at the very centre of several overlapping colonies,” Stipe told EurekAlert!
“He created the salon, laid the trails; he was the connector, the queen ant if you will, the bringer-togetherer.”
Booher, meanwhile, revealed he initially became friends with Ayers after earning his bachelor’s degree in ecology at the University of Georgia.