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Hover Flies (Syrphidae)

Hover Flies (or Flower Flies, if you are American) belong to a big family of small to big flies. They are among the most frequent visitors to flowers in the garden. In Holland and Belgium alone over 300 species exist! In summer the majority is seen in sometimes great numbers mixing with butterflies, bees, bumble bees and other flower adorers. Their strikingly swift flight, the standing still on flight and, in some species, their size are remarkable. Some hover flies are among the biggest flies of Central Europe. Many species are very colourful as well. Yet it is not always that easy to identify them being hover flies. Some thick-headed flies and bee flies are quite similar. Besides some hover flies are very dark creatures and these colours makes it hard to identify them correctly. In order to be sure the animal you are looking at is a hover fly indeed, one has to look at the veins in the wing and compare those with the picture below. In hover flies a great part of the edge of the wing is without veins. The vein running all te way to the edge in most flies, only reaches the last transverse vein, not the edge in hover flies (A). Another feature of hover flies is the so-calles 'floating vein' (B). This vein just ends nowhere. Usually veins end either at the edge of the wing or in another vein. Both these features being present means you are actually looking at a hover fly.



Veins in the wings of hoverflies: A veinless part of the edge, B "floating vein".
Click on the picture for an enlargement.



photograph Eristalis tenax
Drone Fly Eristalis tenax

The last part of the legs of the Drone Fly is dark. More...


photograph Eristalis pertinax
Tapered Drone Fly Eristalis pertinax

The last part of the legs of the Tapered Drone Fly is yellowish. More...


photograph Eristalis arbustorum
Dwarf Drone Fly Eristalis arbustorum

The Dwarf Drone Fly is slightly smaller than the previous species. More...


photograph Eristalis nemorum
Drone Fly Eristalis nemorum

Eristalis nemorum has a small but crisp dot in the wings. More...


photograph Eristalis pratorum
Drone Fly Eristalis pratorum

Eristalis pratorum is one of the most variable Drone Flies we know. More...


photograph Eristalis intricaria
Drone Fly Eristalis intricaria

A bee imitator mimicking a bumblebee: Eristalis intricaria does it the intricate way. More...


photograph Pellucid Hoverfly
Pellucid Hoverfly Volucella pelluscens

The Pellucid Hoverfly is a big and frequent visitor of gardens. More...


photograph Volucella bombylans plumata
Volucella bombylans plumata

Volucella bombylans imitates Bumblebees. This one mimics the Earth Bumble Bee. More...


photograph Volucella bombylans bombylans
Volucella bombylans bombylans

Volucella bombylans imitates Bumblebees. This variety mimics the Red-tailed Bumble Bee. More...


photograph Greater Bulbfly
Greater Bulbfly Merodon equestris

The Greater Bulbfly comes in two variations mainly. This is the one with the reddish thorax... More...


photograph Greater Bulbfly
Greater Bulbfly Merodon equestris

... and this is the Greater Bulbfly variation with a black thorax. More...


photograph Chrysotoxum festivum
Chrysotoxum festivum

Chrysotoxum festivum is a perfect wasp imitator. More...


photograph Xanthogramma pedissequum
Xanthogramma pedissequum

The short antennae give it away: Xanthogramma pedissequum is not a wasp, but a fly. More...


photograph Eupeodes corollae
Migrant Hoverfly Eupeodes corollae

The Migrant Hoverfly has been tested as a biological way to fight aphids, but it failed. More...


photograph Syrphus torvus
Syrphus torvus

Syrphus torvus has hairy eyes. More...


photograph Syrphus ribesii
Syrphus ribesii

The female of Syrphus ribesii has yellow thighs. More...


photograph Sphaerophoria scripta
Long Hoverfly Sphaerophoria scripta

In most cases only the male of the Long Hoverfly can be identified. More...


photograph Sphaerophoria sp
Long Hoverfly species Sphaerophoria sp

The males of the Long Hover Fly species all have a long, very thin body. The females however are looking like typical hover flies. More...


photograph Scaeva selenitica
Scaeva selenitica

Scaeva selenitica looks like Scaeva pyrastri a lot, but the comma-shaped markings are yellowish. More...


photograph Scaeva pyrastri
Scaeva pyrastri

Scaeva pyrastri looks like Scaeva selenitica a lot, but the comma-shaped markings are white. More...


photograph Helophilus pendulus
Striped Hoverfly Helophilus pendulus

Helophilus pendulus usually has warmer colours than its look-a-like Helophilus trivittatus. Both species are known as the Striped Hover Fly though. More...


photograph Helophilus trivittatus
Large Tiger Hoverfly Helophilus trivittatus

The two small lines at the third segment on the body always touch eachother in the Large Tiger Hoverfly. They never touch in Helophilus pendulus. More...


photograph Parhelophilus sp
Parhelophilus species

There are three extremely similar Parhelophilus species, which are very hard to tell apart. All are hairy and orange. More...


photograph Myathropa florea
Myathropa florea

Just one look at the skull on the thorax and you know that you are looking at Myathropa florea. More...


photograph Marmelade Fly
Marmelade Fly Episyrphus balteatus

A small, but well known hover fly: the Marmelade Fly. More...


photograph Didea fasciata
Didea fasciata

Didea fasciata is a woodland species. More...


photograph Dasysyrphus tricinctus
Dasysyrphus tricinctus

Dasysyrphus tricinctus is a useful species in one's garden. More...


photograph Xylota segnis
Xylota segnis

Xylota segnis is a species rarely seen on flowers. More...


photograph Syritta pipiens
Thick-legged Hover Fly Syritta pipiens

The Thick-legged Hover Fly not only has a thick leg, on it is a distinct red dot. More...


photograph Melanostoma scalare
Chequered Hover Fly Melanostoma scalare

The Chequered Hoverfly has strikingly bright greenish halters. More...


photograph Melanostoma mellinum
Melanostoma mellinum

Melanostoma mellinum is very common, but very unobtrusive. More...


photograph Heineken Fly
Heineken Fly Rhingia campestris

At last an unmistakable Hover Fly: the Heineken Fly. More...


photograph Eristalinus sepulchralis
Eristalinus sepulchralis

To identify Eristalinus sepulchralis just look at the eyes. More...


photograph Cheilosia proxima
Cheilosia proxima

Cheilosia proxima is a typical woodland species. More...


photograph Cheilosia caerulescens
Cheilosia caerulescens

Cheilosia caerulescens often appears in gardens, provided there are succulent plants in it. More...


photograph Cheilosia illustrata
Cheilosia illustrata

Cheilosia illustrata is another hoverfly imitating a Bumble Bee. More...


photograph Pipiza species
Pipiza species Pipiza sp

Pipiza species are small, mainly black Hover Flies. They are notoriously hard to identify. More...


photograph Baccha elongata
Baccha elongata

Baccha elongata is a small and extremely slender Hover Fly. More...


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This page has last been modified on Sunday, November 11, 2018.
© (2000 - 2019) www.gardensafari.nl (Hans Arentsen) To use one of our pictures email me (hans@gardensafari.nl).