Currently viewing the category: "Syrphid Flies"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  egg or pupa on milkweed
Geographic location of the bug:  Azle, Tx
Date: 08/01/2018
Time: 12:43 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I found several of these on my milkweed which was also infested with aphids.  Please help me identify this creature.
How you want your letter signed:  Joanne

Hover Fly Pupa and Oleander Aphid (at far right)

Dear Joanne,
This is the pupa of a beneficial Hover Fly or Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae, and while in the larval stage, they feed voraciously on Aphids.  Adult Hover Flies are also excellent pollinators that mimic stinging wasps and bees, though they are perfectly harmless to humans.  We located a matching image on BugGuide, and there is also a small image at the bottom of the Bugs and Critters in my Florida Back Yard blog.

Thank you!  Do you know if Hover Flies are harmful to Monarch caterpillars?

Hi aganin Joanne.  They are not harmful to Monarch caterpillars.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Basic Beautiful Birdbath Bug
Geographic location of the bug:  Bountiful Utah
Date: 07/18/2018
Time: 11:29 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  I saw these swimming in the the birdbath and was very curious as I had never seen anything like these before. I have watched them over several days, but this is the first time I could get a good picture as the camera focuses on the surface of the water. During the day they often hide under leaves in the birdbath, but seem to become active before sunset.  I can get more pictures if you like.  I will be eternally grateful if you identify these for me.
How you want your letter signed:  Dean Hirschi

Rattailed Maggot

Dear Dean,
This is a Rat-Tailed Maggot, the larval form of the Drone Fly or another Hover Fly species in the subfamily Eristalinae, and here is a BugGuide image.  According to BugGuide: “Larvae in moist, sometimes shallow aquatic environments” and “Larvae of most feed on decaying organic debris. They are filter feeders in different kinds of aquatic media. They purify water by filtering microorganisms and other products.”

Wow! That was fast!  I appreciate the links and the information.
You are the greatest!

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Wasp or yellow jacket
Geographic location of the bug:  Caerphilly mid Glamorgan
Date: 07/09/2018
Time: 01:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Please can you identify this for me.
Found this on a leaf over hanging my small pond, at first thought it was a bee( didn’t have glasses on in my defence). My grandson says it’s a yellow jacket wasp , but the only images I can find don’t have those two black lines. Thank you
How you want your letter signed:  Vivienne morgan

The Footballer

Dear Vivienne,
This is one gorgeous, beneficial Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae.  Adults in the family are pollinaters and they are perfectly harmless, but they mimic stinging insects for protection.  Larvae are beneficial predators that often feed on Aphids.  We indentified your Hover Fly as a member of the genus
Helophilus thanks to the British Hoverflies site.  Additional research led us to Global Species where it states:  “Helophilus pendulus is a European hoverfly. Its scientific name means ‘dangling marsh-lover’ (from Greek helo-, ‘marsh’, -phil, ‘love’, Latin pend-, ‘hang’). It is a very common species in Britain, where it is the commonest Helophilus species; it occurs as far north as the Shetland Islands. It is also found in Ireland.Also has the common name ‘Sun Fly’ although this is probably based on a mis-reading of helo- as helio-.”  That description perfectly fits your own narrative, and we believe your Hover Fly is Helophilus pendulus.  As an aside, New World English uses an adjective and a noun to distinguish Flies, including Horse Flies, House Flies, Bot Flies, Mydas Flies, Fruit Flies and Louse Flies as well as Hover Flies, from insects that are not true Flies and that incorporate the suffix “fly” onto a compound word like Butterfly, Dragonfly, Dobsonfly and countless others.  We finally landed on Nature Spot where Old World versus New World naming conventions are tossed out because of the awesome common name Footballer because:  “This hoverfly is sometimes called ‘The Footballer’ due to its stripy thorax. There are in fact several species with similar stripes which are difficult to tell apart. Another name is ‘The Sunfly’ due to its preference for bright sunny days. In this species the black on the hind tibia is restricted to the distal third and the mid tibia is all yellow.”  Nature Spot also indicates “Around muddy puddles, wet ditches and ponds, but also in most sunny situations along roadsides, field margins, etc” and “Larvae have been found in farmyard drains, very wet manure, and very wet sawdust.”

Hi Daniel
Thank you so much for the email
Totally amazing to learn all about my visitor the beautiful hover fly. Hope I have the pleasure of seeing more. My small pond seems to be working, saw a red damselfly there two weeks ago which was another first for me.
Thank you again for all the information
Vivienne morgan


What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Bee or Wasp?
Geographic location of the bug:  Clanfield, Waterlooville
Date: 06/30/2018
Time: 06:02 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  We have no idea it this was a bee, wasp or a hybrid of both? Please help
How you want your letter signed:  Ella

Hornet Hover Fly

Dear Ella,
This is neither a Bee nor a Wasp.  It is a Fly, more specifically, a Hover Fly in the family Syrphidae.  We believe it is
Volucella zonaria based on images posted to NatureSpot where it states:  “This is a hornet mimic and is one of our largest and most spectacular hoverflies which can be recognised by its yellow and black banded abdomen.”  The site also states:  “This species became established in Britain in the 1940s and has very much a southerly distribution with most records coming from south of a line from the Severn Estuary to The Wash, however it seems to be expanding its range” and “It seems to be found most frequently in urban areas and even in cities, and also along the south coast.”  BugLife uses the common name Hornet Hoverfly and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust uses the common name Hornet Mimic Hoverfly.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Fly in the forest
Geographic location of the bug:  Olalla, Washington
Date: 03/07/2018
Time: 09:00 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Hi. This fly was sitting on a coltsfoot leaf in the forest on a chilly day (maybe 48°). I love the brown hairs on his thorax. What is he?
How you want your letter signed:  gardenjim

Hover Fly:  Brachypalpus alopex

Dear Gardenjim,
Though the wings on your individual are smokier than we are used to seeing on a Drone Fly, we believe that is a correct identification for your fly.  The wing veination pattern on your individual matches that of this Drone Fly pictured on BugGuide as well as that of this Drone Fly pictured on BugGuide.  The Drone Fly is an Old World species that has naturalized in North America and it ranges from coast to coast.  The larva of a Drone Fly is known as a Rat Tailed Maggot.

Update:  Cesar Crash of Insetologia provided a comment and correction.  This appears to be a species of Hover Fly in the genus Brachypalpus from the same subfamily as the Drone Fly and there is an undescribed species posted to BugGuide from the same region as this sighting.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Subject:  Some kind of hoverfly?
Geographic location of the bug:  Pu’u Wa’awa’a, Big Island, Hawaii
Date: 01/25/2018
Time: 06:32 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  Greetings,
I saw this fly on a mamane flower at around 4,000 feet, near the top of Pu’u Wa’awa’a. It looks like some kind of hoverfly. I thought the markings on the back end would make it easy to  ID, but I can’t find one that looks exactly like this. Any ideas would be appreciated.
How you want your letter signed:  Graham

Hover Fly

Dear Graham,
This is indeed a Hover Fly or Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae, a group whose members often impersonate stinging Bees and Wasps as protective mimicry.  Many members of the family closely resemble one another, so exact species identification can be difficult, and this is further exacerbated in Hawaii where many insects and other creatures are not native.  This FlickR image of 
Allograpta obliqua looks very similar, and according to BugGuide data, it is a very far ranging species across North America, making it a likely candidate for its also living in Hawaii.  According to  “This species is found from North America to Southern South America, and has been introduced in Hawaii. A few specimens were collected at both our Year 1 Malaise trap sites. The larvae feed on aphids, and were found to be a major component of the syrphid fauna of organic lettuce fields on the Central Coast of California.”

Hi Daniel,
Many thanks for the identification. That certainly looks like what I saw. Armed with that information, I found several other sites (,, confirming the presence of Allograpta obliqua in Hawaii.
Keep up the good work.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination