If you could talk to a single Genus of organism

Congratulations! A magical fairy moth has visited you and granted you the magical power to talk to any organism, but there’s a catch! You can only pick a single genus! What do you pick and why? No limits here but genus. You can even pick plants, fungi, etc. For the sake of fun, everything can “talk” in the way we understand talking once you have these powers.

(I couldn’t find anyone else who’d asked and I keep playing with this idea. You know all those fictions like Wild Thornberries and Dr. Doolittle where someone gets magical powers to be able to talk to animals? It’d be cool to have, even if it was just one genus.)

My thoughts:
Paper Wasps: Genus Polistes - paper wasps are everywhere in North America and I could drop by and have discussions about the weather and where they’re finding food and maybe convince them to not sting my household. :laughing:
Blue & Steller’s Jays: Genus Cyanocitta - because they’re often making a racket and I’d love to know about what.
Dust Mites: Genus Dermatophagoides - They’re everywhere, right? I wonder what they’d talk about…
Oaks: Genus Quercus - If they could tell all about the history they’ve seen that would be really cool.


Gnaphosa, so I can get them to spill their beauty secrets

Alternatively, being able to talk to a hard-to-ID genus that’s near identical to another would be a pretty easy cheat for identifying them.

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I would be torn between anolis and coturnix, since I have a pet anole and would love to know what she thinks of me, and I have pet quail and I think their conversations with each-other would be hilarious.
Chickadees would also be fun to talk to, or vultures.

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Homo. I’ve never been able to learn languages.

Also wondering if the ability tracks taxonomic changes.


Wait-- would this automatically give you the ability to understand sign language? also, good question.


Being able to speak any human language would be super cool and useful.

@giannamaria Pets would be fun, except I think I prefer meows to hearing “Dinner! Dinner! Dinner!”


Yes, I didn’t think of it that way but certain flycatchers would be so easy to tell apart - just ask! :laughing:

Probably phragmites so they can tell me who is who. I’d love to know the same about powdery mildews but that’d be a family kinda deal. Phragmites’ taxonomy is disgusting and the hybridization is nasty so I’d really like to go directly to the source if possible and make them clarify. I feel like they owe it to me/us all.


Admittedly it might not be the most practical choice for day-to-day use, especially considering my focus on insects, but I’m inclined towards Hansenocaris. It’s a part of the sublclass Facetotecta which has been a subject of immense curiosity for me. They have only ever been seen in larval form and all attempts to raise them to adults in captivity have failed. Maybe talking to them could reveal their secrets?


Euphorbia. There’s just such an amazing variety of them. I don’t think the life of any single Euphorbia species is that exciting, but putting them all together could probably give great insight into plant biology.


That’s actually a great answer. I didn’t think of that.
(However, as I barely talk to anyone whose language I do speak, I’ll stick with my answer. Haha)

No question there for me, Corvus. They’re basically everywhere (sorry South America…), they can be incredibly friendly, they’re clever and I love what I’ve seen of their personality (at least for Corvus corone).


Loxodonta! I would love it! They are so sensitive and long-lived! I could learn so much! And since the greatest threat to them is elephant/human contact I could be a peacemaker between them and us. Sigh.

Corvids are so great. I bet they’d have a great sense of humor. American crows and bluejays are the only corvids that live around me and I love them!

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Probably Corvus, and I think I’m not the only one. Being able to talk to birds would be cool enough, but some chats with the extra schemey ones would probably be a great way to pass the time.
Plus, good way to find things and get new things (it’s not stealing if I didn’t ask them specifically!).

Oh, yeah, I’d love to talk to some fish crows!

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It wouldn’t need to – it would reveal the true taxonomy regardless of current taxonomic opinion.

You say that like genus is a real entity. It can be a natural grouping but that’s still an arbitrary decision made by taxonomists about how many species to include. Species are, by some definitions, natural entities. Blame Linnaeus for making classification part of the species name.


Wow this is a great question. I would probably have to go with Quercus because my house is surrounded by oak trees and I think it would be cool to hear about what they have seen. A close runner up to Quercus for me would be Felis. I would love to know what my cats think about me.

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Vespula, tell them they are not tasty and the only reason we attack their nests is because they attack us if we touch a nest hole by mistake. Its a case of defense against the other’s defense when no one actually wants to eat the other

P.S. Vespula are ground yellowjackets and I chose them over Dolichovespula (aerial yellowjackets) because the ground nests are harder to spot and either avoid or destroy while they are small

EDIT 2: I like wasps and don’t intend to suggest that any native species should be destroyed on sight, I only destroy nests that are in a location that poses a safety risk to people