What’s in a name?

This brightly marked yellow and black hoverfly is called Helophilus pendulus. This animal is a male – its compound eyes do not join on the top of the head -if it were a female they wouldIt is a common species in Britain and I expect you have seen one in your travels or even in your garden even if you didn’t know what it was called. It is one of several species that look rather similar but it is the most common.

Helophilus pendulus 3
Helo – is from the Greek and means ‘marsh’ and philus again from Greek means liking – so a marsh liking species (its larvae live in wet places), ‘pendulus‘ means hanging or dangling. So a common English name might be the dangling marsh-liking hoverfly but it isn’t!

Helophilus pendulus 2
It is however often known as the ‘sunfly’, partly because, as in this series of photos, it likes sitting on leaves in direct sunlight. It might also be called the sunfly because helo has been mis-read as helio, the Greek for sun.

Helophilus pendulus 1
Perhaps my favourite name for this hover fly is ‘The Footballer’  on account of its stripy thorax! If you go for this name then I suspect you might support Cambridge United!

2 thoughts on “What’s in a name?

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