This Is the Longest Animal Name – And How to Pronounce It

Written by Katie Melynn Wood
Published: November 30, 2023
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The Southeast Asian soldier fly has the longest name in the animal kingdom. Known by the scientific name Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides, the Southeast Asian soldier fly is an amazing animal with a notable name. Even though the tiny fly is less than half an inch long, its name takes up a lot of space and is a challenge to pronounce.

This name was specifically chosen to describe the fly’s appearance. It is derived from the Greek words for “near soldier wasp-fly.” It was described by Enrico Brunetti, a British researcher specializing in insects within the Diptera family, in 1923. The fly is native to Thailand. For this reason, sometimes the name or description includes references to him as well as the year. You might see the animal described as Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides Brunetti 23.

The Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides is part of the Stratiomyidae family within the Diptera order, also known as true flies. Insects within this family are characterized by their wasp-like appearance, although they are flies. They vary in size throughout the family. The Southeast Asian soldier fly is typically just over 10 millimeters long.

How Do You Pronounce the Southeast Asian Soldier Fly’s Name?

Southeast Asian soldier fly

The Southeast Asian soldier fly has the longest scientific name, Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides

©Norman E. Woodley/ CC BY 3.0

The Parastratiosphecomyia stratiosphecomyioides has an amazing 17 syllables. Fortunately, its full name repeats many of the same sounds. So once you learn the basic pronunciation and building blocks, it becomes a bit easier to tackle the entire genus and species name.

Start by breaking down the name into its parts. It can help to separate them with a dash. This looks like Pa-ra-stra-ti-o-sphe-co-my-i-a and stra-ti-o-sphe-co-my-i-oi-des. You can see the repeats even clearer when you break the words down into their syllables. Scientific names tend to be long and somewhat complicated, at least compared to the common names used for animals. This particular name uses the root words within Ancient Greek to describe the animal. The Southeast Asian soldier fly looks like a wasp with a bulbous end to its abdomen. This looks like a wasp’s stinger. This explains why the description uses the Greek root words for “wasp-fly.”

The genus name, Parastratiosphecomyia, loosely translates to “near soldier wasp fly.” Brunetti described this genus this way because of its armor-like appearance as an adult. The species name, stratiosphecomyioides, roughly means “wasp fly-like.” This is more specific to this individual species.

With such a long and complicated name, many people refer to this particular insect as the Southeast Asian soldier fly. We can’t blame them! It is a bit easier to say and uses more familiar sounds and compound words.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © MOs810 / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License / Original

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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