The coronavirus left its mark on the world – and on a new species of insect found in the Western Balkans.

When Halil Ibrahimi and his team at the University of Prishtina discovered a new species of caddisfly – a flying insect similar to a moth whose eggs and larvae thrive in freshwater lakes, streams and ponds – they named it Potamophylax coronavirus.

The insect was discovered in Kosovo’s Bjeshket e Nemuna National Park before the pandemic, but the work of analyzing and describing it was done as the scientific world faced such challenges as lab lockdowns and difficulty accessing supplies.

The name is a good tool in increasing awareness for environmental protection.

Halil Ibrahimi

This left Ibrahimi time to finish desktop research on previously started investigations. “Hence the name of the new species reflecting pandemia with all these obstacles,” Ibrahimi tells KUST Review.

But the name also has a second meaning.

It reflects “the hidden ‘pandemia,’ i.e. pollution and degradation of freshwater ecosystems in Kosovo and Western Balkans during the past two decades,” Ibrahimi says. “Many rare and important insect species, including the newly described Potamophylax coronavirus, are endangered by these activities.”

“The name is a good tool in increasing awareness for environmental protection,” he says.

Ibrahimi and the team published their results in Biodiversity Data Journal.

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