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Eristalis is a large genus of hoverflies, family Syrphidae, in the order Diptera. Several species are known as drone flies (or droneflies) because they bear a resemblance to honeybee drones. Drone flies and their relatives are fairly common generalist pollinators,[2] the larvae of which are aquatic, and breathe through a long, snorkel-like appendage, hence the common name rat-tailed maggots.[1][3]

Eristalis September 2007-1.jpg
Eristalis tenax on Lantana camara
Scientific classification e
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Diptera
Family: Syrphidae
Tribe: Eristalini
Genus: Eristalis
Latreille, 1804
Type species
Musca tenax
  • Eoseristalis Kanervo, 1938
  • Eristalis Latreille, 1804

Eristalis is a large genus of around 99 species,[4] and is subdivided into several subgenera and species groups (Eristalomyia, Eristalis, Eoseristalis etc.).

Scientific name and grammatical genderEdit

The scientific name was proposed by Pierre André Latreille in 1804. He placed seven species in his new genus, but listed the names as combinations with Syrphus, so it remained unclear what gender he attributed to the name (the gender of the name Syrphus is masculine). In the two centuries following its publication, Eristalis was sometimes considered to be of feminine gender, sometimes to be of masculine gender. George Henry Verrall (1901)[5] assigned its gender as masculine, a choice followed in British literature, and also in Dutch, Polish, Czech, Spanish and Portuguese literature. In several other European languages and in North America, the tradition was to consider it as a feminine word. In 1993 the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature placed the name on the Official List, and gave its gender as masculine, without justification for that choice.[6] In 2004, Peter Chandler, Andrew Wakeham-Dawson and Angus McCullough submitted an application to confirm the gender of Eristalis as feminine.[7] They referred to ICZN Art. 30.1.1, which states that a name in Latin form takes the gender given for that word in standard Latin dictionaries.[8] In Composition of Scientific Words by R.W. Brown (1954), "eristalis" is listed as a feminine word that refers to an unknown precious stone. The request of Chandler et al. was granted less than two years after submission.[9] As of 2006, Eristalis is officially a word of feminine gender.




  1. ^ a b Stubbs, Alan E.; Falk, Steven J (1983). British Hoverflies: An Illustrated Identification Guide (2nd ed.). London: British Entomological and Natural History Society. pp. 253, xvpp. ISBN 1-899935-03-7.
  2. ^ Van Der Kooi, C. J.; Pen, I.; Staal, M.; Stavenga, D. G.; Elzenga, J. T. M. (2015). "Competition for pollinators and intra-communal spectral dissimilarity of flowers". Plant Biology. 18 (1): 56–62. doi:10.1111/plb.12328. PMID 25754608.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Thompson, F. Christian (1997). "Revision of the Eristalis flower flies (Diptera: Syrphidae) of the Americas south of the United States" (PDF). Proceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington. Washington D.C.: Entomological Society of Washington. 99: 209–237. ISSN 0013-8797. Retrieved 2009-06-19.
  4. ^ Thompson, F. Christian (2003). "Austalis, a new genus of flower flies (Diptera: Syrphidae) with revisionary notes on related genera" (pdf Adobe/Acobat). Zootaxa. New Zealand: Magnolia Press. 246: 1–19. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.246.1.1. ISSN 1175-5334. Retrieved 2011-01-28.
  5. ^ Verrall, G.H. (1901). A list of British Diptera: 22; and, according to Chandler et al., Case 3259 (see there) also in British Flies vol. 8
  6. ^ ICZN (1993). Opinion 1747. Eristalis Latreille, 1804, Helophilus Fabricius, 1805, Xylota Meigen, 1822 and Eumerus Meigen, 1822 (Insecta; Diptera): conserved. The Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 50(3): 256–258
  7. ^ Chandler, P.J., Wakeham-Dawson, A. & McCullough, A. (2004). Case 3259. Eristalis Latreille, 1804 (Insecta: Diptera): proposed confirmation that the gender is feminine; Musca nemorum Linnaeus, 1758, M. arbustorum Linnaeus, 1758 and M. horticola De Geer, 1776 (currently Eristalis nemorum, E. arbustorum and E. horticola): proposed conservation of usage of the specific names by designation of neotypes. The bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 61(4): 241–244
  8. ^ International Code of Zoological Nomenclature Art. 30.1.1
  9. ^ ICZN (2006). Opinion 2153 (Case 3259). Eristalis Latreille, 1804 (Insecta: Diptera): confirmation that the gender is feminine; Musca nemorum Linnaeus, 1758, M. arbustorum Linnaeus, 1758 and M. horticola De Geer, 1776 (currently Eristalis nemorum, E. arbustorum and E. horticola): usage of the specific names conserved by designation of neotypes. The Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature 63(2): 146–147
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Skevington, Jeffrey H.; Locke, Michelle M.; Young, Andrew D.; Moran, Kevin; Crins, William J.; Marshall, Stephen A. (2019). Field Guide to the Flower Flies of Northeastern North America. Princeton. ISBN 9780691189406.
  11. ^ Wakeham-Dawson, A.; Jones, A.G.; Thompson, F.C. (2009). "Falkland Islands Syrphidae (Diptera)". Dipterists Digest. Second series. UK: Dipterists Forum. 16 (1): 65–71. ISSN 0953-7260.