Another question I cannot answer. Can you? (creatures whose common names are military)

(While I have been reading I haven’t posted in some time, due to a charming and ridiculously lingering aftereffect of dengue known as viral arthritis, which thankfully is now resolving. But it made typing laborious and frustrating so I did it as little as possible. I also wore strange gloves to sleep like a bike messenger on call, so there is that, too.)

Here is the state of affairs: I have posted before that my younger son has some difference that makes him unique and wonderful. It also makes him pose questions for which I am wildly unprepared. Sometimes I direct him to look the answers up. Sometimes I can look the answers up. And then other times, we both have no idea.

Recently he was alarmed by what he called “a big black wasp”. He was reassured when I told him it was, in fact, a Black Soldier Fly and basically should be considered a hero among insects. That was at least two weeks ago.

And then today, seemingly out of the blue (but really just a continuation of the long-ago conversation):

Him: Tell me, are there other militarily titled insects?

Me: Uhhhhh. WAIT. I know one! Blue-eyed Ensign Wasp!

Him: And are there others? Or animalia?



Him: sigh

Here is what he is not interested in: creatures named after military people.

As far as I can tell he is interested in the creatures whose common names are military but if there is a scientific name with a rank in there (?) he might go for that.

I appreciate any knowledge anyone might have and share.

(Today is a holiday here, Día de la Revolución, which may be why this is on his mind.)


There’s the lieutenant surgeonfish, probably the most overqualified fish in existence.

In French, we have the Gendarme, so-called because it ressembles their uniform from a long time ago.


That is a cool question, and I am glad that your son is feeling better! Here are some I found:


Certain castes of ants and termites are called soldiers, this is not a species, it’s a caste like worker or queen

There are kinds of ants called army ants

A butterfly called a Soldier

Soldier beetles

Sergeant Majors


Its fungi, not insects, but there’s an entire genus of mushrooms whose common name is the Knights! (Tricholoma)


In Australia, the Noisy Miner (Manorina melanocephala) is often called the Solider Bird

We also have Solider Crabs (Genus Mictyris)

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There’s both a military cone snail (Conus miliaris) and an admiral cone snail (Conus ammiralis). Both belong to a group of sometimes lethally venomous snails. There’s also a red admiral butterfly.

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Surprised no one else mentioned Armyworm Moths

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41 hits on WoRMS for “militar”:

13 for “sargent”:

5 for “admiral”:

2 for “corporal”:

641 for “major”, but those probably don’t have to do with the rank:

Probably same for 8 “general”:

1 named after Captain Kidd:


Most of the examples provided here have nothing to do with actual military ranks. Terms like major refer to the opposite of minor rather than a Major. Corporal for most organisms refers to ‘of the body’ rather than the military rank.

It seems like taxonomists aren’t fans of the military.


I would guess that there are many species named after famous individuals in the military. For instance: Napoleonaea is a genus of plants named after Napoleon Bonaparte. Though interestingly, Bonaparte’s Gull is not named after Napoleon, but his nephew who was an ornithologist - go figure.

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Military Macaw and Sergeant Major (the fish) come to mind.


Military helmet snails are one which i’m aware of although their common name on Inat is black racer nerite.

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Surprised nobody’s mentioned the various Admirals and Viceroys (genera Vanessa and Limenitis) in butterflies, or the midshipmen (genus Porichthys) in fish. [edit - I’m not sure if Viceroys are properly military, or political - some have been military commanders.]


and, of course, there’s the frigatebird (not a rank, but a warship).

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The plant genus Galinsoga is commonly called “gallant soldier” in English (apparently an “eggcorn”-type reinterpretation of the scientific name rather than any particular military association).

Interestingly, it is called “Franzosenkraut” (“French weed”) in German, and this name does have a military connection – as an introduced species that began spreading widely around the time of the Napoleonic Wars, the French soldiers were held responsible for having brought it with them as they marched across the German lands.

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Hi Lucy, nice to hear of your son :-) Since I am more or less refusing to learn the common names (be it German, English or Spanish) I can’t help much. The admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) was already mentioned.

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I dislike the name a lot, but it’s one of my favorite flowers: Orchis militaris, the Military orchid:

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  • bombardier beetle
  • bomber fly
  • elegant bomber (a moth)
  • warrior beetle
  • warrior wasp
  • samurai wasp
  • ninja (butterfly)
  • swordsman dart (a moth)


  • rifleman (a bird)
  • (various “warrior” animals)
  • archerfish

knights are butterflies and cicadas, too.

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Thank you all! He liked them all and was very satisfied.

He especially enjoyed the bit about blaming the French for bringing weeds (he is a history buff) and the gendarme (and a historical clothing buff). He also liked the frigatebird which I ought to have remembered. Oh, and the poison snails! He is a snail fan (someone has to be, I guess).

Honestly you cannot at all tell he was ever sick. It is wild to see how fully he bounced back. We all had serotype three, which if I understand correctly means we cannot have that one again but we can have others. (No, thank you.)