The yellow jacket hover fly, also known as the good news bee, is an intriguing insect that you may come across in various parts of the United States. Resembling a yellow jacket or hornet, this species, scientifically known as Milesia virginiensis, is quite harmless and does not possess the ability to sting.
It’s worth taking a closer look at this fascinating creature and learning more about its unique characteristics.
Though they might seem intimidating at first due to their similar appearance to yellow jackets, the yellow jacket hover fly is actually a beneficial insect in your garden. As a species of hover fly, they play an essential role in pollination. When encountering these insects, it’s essential to remember that they pose no threat to you and are actually helpful in maintaining a healthy ecosystem.
In addition, the yellow jacket hover fly can be distinguished from its wasp counterparts through its single pair of wings and short antennae. Keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures and appreciate their role in our environment. So, next time you spot a yellow jacket hover fly or good news bee, you can relax knowing they are harmless and vital to our ecosystem.
Yellow Jacket Hover Fly Description
The Yellowjacket Hover Fly, also known as the Virginia flower fly or Good News Bee, is an insect belonging to the species Milesia virginiensis. It is known for its ability to mimic yellow jackets. Despite its resemblance to wasps, it is harmless and lacks a stinger. Unique features include a single pair of wings and short antennae.
Comparison to Other Insects
When comparing the Yellowjacket Hover Fly to other insects, particularly wasps and yellow jackets, there are some key differences:
- Wings: Hover flies have a single pair of wings, while wasps and yellow jackets have two pairs.
- Antennae: Hover flies have short antennae, while wasps and yellow jackets have longer, more noticeable antennae.
- Stinger: The Yellowjacket Hover Fly doesn’t have a stinger, while wasps and yellow jackets do.
|Feature||Yellowjacket Hover Fly||Wasp & Yellow Jacket|
|Wings||Single Pair||Two Pairs|
|Presence of a stinger||No||Yes|
Identifying the Good News Bee
To identify the Good News Bee, pay attention to its morphological features and behavior:
- Observe the wings. Look for a single pair of wings, as opposed to the two pairs found on wasps and yellow jackets.
- Check for short antennae compared to the longer antennae of wasps and yellow jackets.
- Notice the buzzing sound they make. Good News Bees tend to buzz like a hornet, which is an excellent way to distinguish them from other hover flies.
- Remember that they are harmless mimics. Despite their ability to mimic yellow jackets, they pose no threat to humans.
By recognizing these characteristics, you can confidently identify the Good News Bee and appreciate its presence in your surroundings.
Behavior and Habitat
Hovering and Aggression
The yellowjacket hover fly, also known as the good news bee, is known for its hovering and aggressive behavior. Although they may seem threatening, they are harmless and cannot sting. This defensive tactic allows them to protect themselves from potential predators.
Their behavior includes:
- Flying aggressively
- Buzzing loudly
- Hovering in the air
It’s essential to differentiate between the yellowjacket hover fly and the southern yellowjacket, which can sting and be more dangerous.
The good news bee can be found mainly in the southern United States. They prefer habitats such as forest edges and areas with deciduous trees, as they provide an ideal environment for them to thrive.
Their typical habitat range consists of:
- Forest edges with deciduous trees
- Gardens and parks
- Southern United States region
Remember, the next time you encounter a yellowjacket hover fly, there’s no need to panic as they are simply a harmless insect mimicking a more dangerous wasp.
Role in the Environment
Yellowjacket hover flies, also known as good news bees, are great pollinators. They help plants by taking nectar and pollen from flowers. When they visit different flowers, they transfer pollen between them. This cross-pollination helps plants thrive and produce fruits. For example, they are known to pollinate various flowering plants, like wildflowers and garden plants.
Remember, these pollinators aren’t just cool; they’re essential for a healthy ecosystem. So next time you see a yellowjacket hover fly, thank it for its hard work.
Not only do yellowjacket hover flies contribute to pollination, but they also play a crucial role in predator-prey relationships. The larvae of these flower flies are known to be predators of small insects like aphids. This is great news for gardeners, as aphids can damage plants significantly.
To sum up, yellowjacket hover flies or good news bees have essential roles in the environment. From pollinating flowers, aiding plant growth, and helping control harmful pest populations, these insects are indispensable in maintaining a balanced ecosystem. So, let’s appreciate their presence and be mindful of their importance when we encounter them.
Symbolism and Folklore
The Yellowjacket Hover Fly, also known as the Good News Bee, holds some cultural significance in the realm of American folklore. As their name suggests, these insects are believed by some to bring good luck. It’s fascinating how such a small creature can have an impact on people’s beliefs and traditions.
In folklore, Good News Bees are often associated with positive events or happenings. They are considered harbingers of joy and prosperity. So, if you see one, it might just mean that something good is on the horizon for you!
The public’s perception of the Yellowjacket Hover Fly is generally positive, largely due to their role as beneficial pollinators. However, their striking resemblance to yellowjackets might cause fear and confusion for some people, leading to the unnecessary killing of these harmless and helpful insects.
It’s essential to understand the difference between the two, as Hover Flies are nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they can be an asset to your garden and local ecosystem. Here are a few key points to help you distinguish between Yellowjacket Hover Flies and yellowjackets:
- Yellowjacket Hover Flies have two wings, while yellowjackets have four.
- Hover Flies do not sting, while yellowjackets can and will if threatened.
- The body shape of Hover Flies is more elongated, while yellowjackets have a more compact shape.
So next time you see a Yellowjacket Hover Fly or a Good News Bee, remember their cultural significance and the vital role they play in the ecosystem. Be sure to give them the respect they deserve, and perhaps even thank them for the good luck they might bring your way.
The yellow jacket hover fly, also known as the good news bee, is a member of the family Syrphidae. These syrphid flies are scientifically important and belong to the order Diptera. To gain a deeper understanding of this insect, you can explore their unique characteristics and behaviors, such as their ability to mimic wasps for protection.
Researchers often study syrphid flies due to their ecological roles. For example, they are known as efficient pollinators and their larvae serve as biocontrol agents against aphids. Investigation in this field is paramount for understanding the wider impact of these insects on their ecosystem.
To dive into the world of syrphid flies, consider exploring the following resources:
- BugGuide: An online community where experts and enthusiasts share their knowledge about insects, BugGuide is an excellent resource to learn about the various species within the Syrphidae family.
- Allexperts.com: A platform where you can connect with experts in various fields, Allexperts.com is a good place to inquire about the specific behaviors or identification of different syrphid flies, including the yellow jacket hover fly.
- Blogs and scientific articles: There are numerous blogs and publications showcasing the fascinating intricacies of Diptera, and delving into their content can provide valuable insights as well as answer many of your questions regarding the family Syrphidae.
Remember to maintain a friendly and inquisitive attitude as you explore these resources, and let your curiosity be your guide in understanding the captivating world of the yellow jacket hover fly and other interesting insects within the Syrphidae family.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Yellowjacket Hover Fly: “Good News Bee” brings no luck to swatter
Black and yellow bug
Location: Willis, Texas
August 2, 2010 6:48 pm
Beginning of August. Very hot. 50 miles north of Houston, Texas. This bug flew into our garage and my wife swatted it.
This is a Yellowjacket Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis. It is one of the Syrphid Flies in the family Syrphidae, commonly called Flower Flies or Hover Flies. Many species in the family mimic bees and wasps. The adult Yellowjacket Hover Fly feeds on nectar and pollen from plants like Queen Anne’s Lace, and it will also be attracted to the blooms of related plants in the garden like parsley, dill and carrots. You may read more about the Yellowjacket Hover Fly on BugGuide, including this tidbit gleaned from AllExperts.com: “Flies aggressively and buzzes like a hornet. In the southern United States, sometimes called the news bee or good news bee for its habit of hovering in front of a person and ‘giving them the news’. It is also said to be good luck if one can get the insect to perch on a finger, no doubt because this is difficult to do.“ There is no mention of swatting a Yellowjacket Hover Fly to bring good luck. The Yellowjacket Hover Fly is a benign insect that will not bite nor sting. People often react to loudly buzzing insects by swatting them, and it is part of our mission to educate the public because many beneficial and benign insects are killed unnecessarily just because they are frightening looking and the person feels threatened, so we are archiving your letter and image in our Unnecessary Carnage section.
Letter 2 – Green Hover Fly from Florida
Fly With Green Eyes, Green Body
October 22, 2009
My friends and I do alot of macro pictures of bugs and came across this fly with large green eyes and a metallic green body. Can you tell us what it is?
Bob in Florida
Tampa Bay Area of Florida
After unsuccessfully searching BugGuide, we were going to post your photo and enlist help from our readership, but one last ditch effort led us to Ornidia obesa, a species of Syrphid Fly, commonly called Flower Flies or Hover Flies. Seems this species has a somewhat dubious reputation. According to BugGuide: “It breeds in human latrines and other semiliquid wastes” and “It is known to carry bacteria of public health importance (Salmonella, Shigella and Mycobacterium). The species is also beneficial as the maggots can convert coffee-production waste products into useful protein sources for cattle feed.” We found reference that this species from the New World tropics has spread to the Old World Tropics as well.
Letter 3 – Good News Bee is actually a Hover Fly
Subject: Insect Id
Location: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Northeast Ohio
June 30, 2015 12:58 pm
Ok, folks, this isn’t the best image I’ve ever taken, but I still like it.
My only problem is that I have no idea what it is !!!
At first I thought it was a species of wasp; then, after some research, I thought it was some sort of Hover Fly, but it’s WAY too big for that…a GOOD inch to inch and a half in length; recently, I saw an image of a Cicada Killer that was similar, but…ONLY similar.
I’ve only seen one other just like it (and to be truthful, it may very well have been the same one…it flew past me in the exact same place the next summer.
I saw it near the Park Headquarters in The Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Northeast Ohio.
If anyone can help me with an Id I would appreciate it; I’ve been looking for it for close to 30 years.
Signature: Mike Davis-Mick’s Pix Photos
You initially discounted that this was a Hover Fly because of its size, but it is in fact a Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis, a species commonly called a Yellow Jacket Hover Fly or Good News Bee. According to the Bug Eric blog: “At 18-28.5 millimeters in body length, and brightly colored in yellow, brown, and black, this fly could easily be mistaken for a European Hornet or queen yellowjacket. The ominous droning buzz it makes only heightens the visual mimicry. Some speculate that this species mimics the Southern Yellowjacket, Vespula squamosa. Indeed, Southern Yellowjackets were also active in the area, but the workers are substantially smaller than this fly. It is too early for the yellowjacket queens to be appearing, but they make for a better ‘model’ in both size and color pattern. Milesia virginiensis figures in American folklore and superstition. It is still known in many hamlets as the ‘News Bee,’ for it will sometimes hover in front of a person, as if it were ‘giving them the news.’ It is also considered to be good luck if one of these flies alights on your finger. I was surprised that this particular individual allowed me a very close approach, so maybe it is not out of the realm of possibility than one of these insects could perch on a patient person.”
Thank you very much, Daniel. Very informative !! And, with your permission, I’d like to attach your answer to the image in my Fine Art America, and FB sites
Letter 4 – Yellow Jacket Hover Fly
help with identification
December 26, 2009
Dr. Mr. Bugman,
Like a lot of very silly people, I called this a bee. Then, I started looking for what kind of “bee” this is and realized that it’s probably not a bee at all. Smooth, bright yellow and black markings…I’m guessing a very poor pollinator….short antennae… and spotted in southeaster Alabama in late October on my cold frame plastic.
Would love to know what this little flyer is…since I did a graphic design of it…and want to call it something more than BeeArt…since it’s not a bee at all. Of this, I’m pretty certain. Thanks to your wonderful web site!
Kimberly, a master gardener, lover of bugs, but still learning about the birds & the bees
Ozark, Alabama (southeastern Alabama)
This is a Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis. It is one of the Syrphid Flies in the family Syrphidae, commonly called Flower Flies or Hover Flies. Many species in the family mimic bees and wasps, hence your original confusion. The adult Yellow Jacket Hover Fly feeds on nectar and pollen from plants like Queen Anne’s Lace, and it will also be attracted to the blooms of related plants in your garden like parsley, dill and carrots. BugGuide has a wealth of information on the Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, including this tidbit: “Flies aggressively and buzzes like a hornet. In the southern United States, sometimes called the news bee or good news bee for its habit of hovering in front of a person and “giving them the news”. It is also said to be good luck if one can get the insect to perch on a finger, no doubt because this is difficult to do.“
Dear Mr. Marlos,
You have made my day….and I so appreciate your prompt response to my question re: identifying this colorful creature. I adore the BUGS website and am grateful to folks, like you, who give this your time. Such a worthy endeavor. Thanks to you I am now a more informed individual and will be addressing this bee/yellow jacket mix up on my blog. After I do, I’ll share the link with you…..so you can see the YJHF Art I created.
Letter 5 – Yellow Jacket Hover Fly or Good News Bee
Subject: Yellow Jacktet Hover Fly
Location: Pittsburg, PA
September 10, 2013 10:08 am
Not a question, just sending for your info, as I couldn’t find a sighting that wasn’t in a southern state. I wrote you before I figured out what he was. Once I had, it did it was from southern states, and I’m in Pittsburgh, PA. I’ve lived here 8 years and never saw him until this spring, and since then he visited me every day. Today he was on my hand and other areas repeatedly, and for long periods. Glad I knew by then he wasn’t a very large hornet!
Thanks for sending us your fun photo of a Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis. Though most of our submissions are from the south, BugGuide lists the range as extending even further north than Pittsburgh. We love the common name Good News Bee which you can read about on Beautiful Wildlife Garden.
Update: September 4, 2018
Dead Link On What’s That Bug
Your letter to the bugman: Hey What’s That Bug Team
Ann here, from A Green Hand
I’m writing a post (for A Green Hand) on the topic of Good News Bee, and I actually found one of What’s That Bug
The link is in this post.
It goes to this page: http://www.
It looks like it used to be a guide about Good News Bee, but Beautiful Wildlife Garden removed it a while back.
We actually have a similar information to Good News Bees here – it might make a nice replacement?
(just to clarify, we DO talk about Good News Bees in this article, which is what you’re talking about in the guide on What’s That Bug)
Either way, just thought I’d let you know! – we’ll be mentioning and linking to you in our guide.
We have linked to A Green Hand.
Letter 6 – Striped Flower Fly from New Zealand
February 11, 2014 1:21 am
Seen yesterday. It was as long as a bluebottle blowfly, but slenderer in the body (the abdomen tapered to a small tip). A strong and active flyer. There were 2 particularly distinctive things about it; (1) it had white ‘toes’ (the 2 flat lobes at the end of each leg), and (2) it often ‘whined’ while sitting at rest (the whine was very similar to the sound a mason wasp makes when building its mud nest). It reminded me of the kelp flies that used to occasionally swarm in vast numbers against the house windows at night (near the coast), only it was bigger. The top of its thorax and its head looked like a 3-lined hoverfly, but it had a different body shape.
which cambridge? UK or Massachusetts or other?
New Zealand mate. I hastily sent the message before I realised it was a USA-based website (I thought it was NZ).
Thanks for the clarification Chris. Though our offices are based in Los Angeles, California, we do consider ourselves to be a global reference source for “bugs” from around the world. We are posting your submission as unidentified while we continue to research the identity of your fly.
Karl provides some research: March 20, 2014
Hi Daniel and Chris:
I looks like a Striped Flower Fly (Orthoprosopa bilineata); Family Syrphidae and Subfamily Eristalinae. The site for the Taranaki Educational Resource: Research, Analysis and Information Network (T.E.R:R.A.I.N) has several excellent images. The species is native to New Zealand and found nowhere else. Regards. Karl
Letter 7 – Syrphid Fly
Bee Fly or Kanye West Imitator?
January 26, 2010
Here I am again with a bug I can’t identify. My first thought is that is was a bee, but maybe it’s a bee fly instead? It didn’t hover around between flowers like a regular honey bee, and when it left the plant, it flew fast and straight right past my ear. I didn’t notice a bee’s buzz when this happened. Any ideas?
Though it very closely mimics a Honey Bee, your fly, Eristalinus taeniops, is actually a Syrphid Fly in the family Syrphidae. Syrphid Flies are also known as Flower Flies or Hover Flies. According to BugGuide, your Syrphid Fly has only been reported from California.
As usual, thank you so very much. I did look around at whatsthatbug.com and at bugguide.net and didn’t find anything. Glad to know that I’m getting better at figuring out the difference between bees and their imitating fly counterparts.
Letter 8 – Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, AKA Good News Bee
Subject: Mimic Fly ?
Location: Greenville SC
September 30, 2013 1:16 pm
Have noticed this insect around my house for several years and finally got the attached photo from my cell phone Am wondering if this is a Yellowjacket Hover Fly (Yellowjacket Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis) ?
Your identification is absolutely correct, though you didn’t mention the common name Good News Bee for the Yellow Jacket Hover Fly.
Letter 9 – Common Oblique Syrphid
Location: Hawthorne, California
September 4, 2010 3:42 pm
I think I have this fly properly identified. Can you confirm it as being a Syrphid fly – Toxomerus marginatus?
Signature: Thanks, Anna
This is a Syrphid Fly in the family Syrphidae, also known as a Flower Fly or Hover Fly, but we do not believe it is Toxomerus marginatus. We applaud you for attempting to self identify your Flower Fly, and the reason your letter caught our attention is that you used a scientific name in the subject line of your email, and it was a name we did not recognize. We do believe you have correctly identified the subfamily Syrphinae which is the same subfamily that includes the Common Oblique Syrphid Fly, Allograpta obliqua, which we believe looks like a closer match to the markings on your individual. If you compare images of Toxomerus marginatus on BugGuide with images of Allograpta obliqua on BugGuide, we think you will agree with our correction. This image on BugGuide shows the markings quite clearly. Syrphidae is a large and confusing family with many members that look remarkably alike, so we want to say again that we commend your efforts at self identification because we know how much time it can take to sort through the countless images posted to BugGuide.
P.S. In formatting the images for this posting, we realized that you have submitted other Syrphid Flies to us in the past, including a Eristalinus taeniops in January and a possible Copestylum marginatum in June. Your photos are excellent, so please keep sending us images of Syrphid Flies or other bugs that you might find that would interest our readers.
Thanks for helping me with this. Maybe one day I will get one correct! Also, many thanks for the compliments and encouragement.
Letter 10 – Fanmail and Confusing Comment
August 16, 2014 12:38 pm
Thanks for a great site. How easy it is to find my bugs . So glad I found you and I’m going to buy your book can’t wait. I’m at the eastern end on the north fork of Long Island and seem to find new bugs all the time.ITS SOOO KOOOOL! Will look to you again soon. Hairy Mary.
Signature: Mary manning
Subject: Peacock bug
August 16, 2014 12:09 pm
Saw one today 8-16-14 on my red bud tree hare in southold , L.I N.Y. Absolutely beautiful! Never saw one before and thought it was just so very cool had to find out.Thank you for your site. Will never forget that one . Mary.
Signature: Mary manning
We are happy you are satisfied with our site and that you are interested in reading Daniel’s book, The Curious World of Bugs, however your second comment has us confused. We are not certain what you mean by a “Peacock Bug” that is on your red bud tree since you did not include an image.
I couldn’t get a picture of the little peacock bug but found it on your site. Very tiny with wings that close over the back but not flat they stand up! Soo cute but no pic. I’ll look again and send pic when I can. Love your site!
Ed. Note: We have Peacock Moths, Peacock Butterflies and a Peacock Fly on our site, but no Peacock Bugs.
I think it’s a peacock fly not bug not sure how to get you a pic. I’m new at this internet stuff. Thanks again!
We do have a Peacock Fly from Germany, and since it is listed on BugGuide, it is a North American species that also has been introduced to Europe.
Letter 11 – Stinkfliege: A Xylophagid Fly
Subject: Red & yellow insect I saw at the park (NJ)
Location: Alpine, NJ / Palisades
June 7, 2014 10:50 pm
Hello. I was exploring around the park yesterday with my camera and came upon this lovely insect hanging out on a leafy plant on the ground. It looks to be some kind of large, colorful fly, maybe? I have been searching around online to see if I can figure out what it is, but I’m having no luck.
The photo was taken June 7, 2014 in Alpine, NJ in the afternoon.
You are correct that this is a Fly, but beyond the identification to the order Diptera level, we haven’t a clue. We hope we can quickly identify this unusual looking fly. Though you did not specify a size, you did indicate that it is a large fly. We quickly scanned BugGuide and there are some similarities to the male Small Headed Fly, Ogcodes dispar, in this image of a mating pair on BugGuide, but we would love a second opinion. The antennae just don’t look right to us, so we do not believe that is a correct identification.
Eric Eaton Provides and Identification: Xylophagid Fly
Getting lots of these lately….Coenomyia ferruginea, a type of xylophagid fly (Xylophagidae). This one looks like a female. I may want to do a blog post on these. Could I simply credit this image to your website if I use it?
Thanks so much Eric. Yes you have permission to use the image on your blog, BugEric. We see on BugGuide that the common name for this species is a Stinkfliege, which joins the term Hellgrammite as an unusual common name for an insect.
Letter 12 – Yellowjacket Hover Fly
Bee-like hummingbird moth from central Missouri.
My wife and I were reading quietly on a nice Saturday afternoon when we noticed a strange buzzing noise coming from the patio. When we went to look we saw this fellow darting through the air. Its wings moved so fast that we couldn’t see them when it was in flight. At first we were afraid it may be a stinger, but after watching its behavior we recognized it as a hummingbird moth. While taking photographs it started hovering around observing us! After a couple more minutes it darted off like a bullet. What a beauty!
Ryan Wolf from Columbia Missouri
We were pleasantly surprised when we opened your attachment. We have no shortage of Hummingbird Moth photos, but your image is a new species for us. This is not a moth but a fly. To be more exact, it is a Yellowjacket Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis. Thank you for adding to our archive.
Letter 13 – Yellow Jacket Hover Fly
I just dunno about this one…
Good evening Mr. Bugman!
I am of course in need of your help in identifying a bee/wasp that I have encountered several times in my front yard. Let me stop and first say that I LOVE your site, and while I am pretty jumpy when it comes to most bugs, especially when they are on my person, (typical girl, I know) I have come to understand that they are here for a very good reason, thanks in part to you guys!! Ok I digress…back to my mystery bee/wasp. I live in Louisiana about 25 miles north of Shreveport on about 30 some odd acres, full of mostly pine and maple trees. In front of our house we have a nice sized tree stump, that we attempted to burn, (unsuccessfully). Everyday I go and come from work for about the past two months (or so) I have seen this nice sized insect hovering around this stump…basically protecting it, so it seems. It lands sometimes and pulsates it’s abdoman but I never see it doing anything else but chase off other insects. When I came home today I actually saw it mating with another one, and I ran inside for my camera, but by the time I came out it was by itself again. I checked every single bee, and wasp website I could find, (of course including yours), but got nowhere. Help me please Mr. Bugman! Thankfully yours,
The reason your search was fruitless is that this is not a bee nor a wasp. It is a Yellow Jacket Hover Fly, Milesia virginiensis. As its common name indicates, it is a fly that mimics a yellow jacket. You can locate more information on this Syrphid Fly on BugGuide.
Letter 14 – Hover Fly mimics Yellowjacket
Subject: Yellow jacket or hoverfly?
Location: Long Island, NY
August 25, 2013 8:43 pm
I don’t see a wasp waist so I’m guessing fly.
I plan a photo exhibit in the spring so I’d like to get my educational info right…
Good luck with the exhibit Carl. This is a lovely photo. We imagine it looks fantastic at a higher resolution.
Letter 15 – Yellow Jacket Hover Fly
Subject: Bee or wasp, Tampa, FL
Location: Tampa, Florida
April 8, 2016 8:50 am
Tried finding this online with no results. Looks similar to a yellow jacket, but orange and yellow and black instead of just yellow and black.
This is neither a Yellow Jacket nor a Bee, but it is a very effective mimic of both. This is a Yellow Jacket Hover Fly or Good News Bee, Milesia virginiensis, a species of Hover Fly or Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae. Though they mimic stinging insects, Hover Flies neither sting nor bite. Pure Florida has a wonderful article on Hover Flies that is illustrated with images of a Yellow Jacket Hover Fly.
Letter 16 – Hornet Mimic Hover Fly and Yellowjackets in jam jar in the UK
Subject: Tell me what this is please
Location: East Sussex UK
August 19, 2017 2:01 pm
I have a big wasp like bug but it has a furry body. Can you tell me what it is please? It was in a jar of jam three day ago.
Signature: Kind regards?
Unlike the surrounding Yellowjackets that are able to sting to defend themselves or their nest, the Hornet Mimic Hover Fly in the middle of your image neither stings nor bites, so it depends upon its protective mimicry to keep it safe from predators. Many Hover Flies or Flower Flies in the family Syrphidae mimic stinging wasps and bees for protection. You can compare your individual to this image on the British Hoverflies site to verify our identification. We suspect these critters were accidentally attracted to the jam jar when it was unintentionally left uncovered.
Letter 17 – Yellowjacket Hover Fly
Subject: Iowa Yellow Jacket Hoverfly
Geographic location of the bug: Pella, Iowa
August 26, 2017 1:06 PM
Noisy little hover fly on my pine log pile. Very friendly.
How you want your letter signed : Darin
The Yellowjacket Hover Fly is also commonly called a Good News Bee.
Letter 18 – Yellowjacket Hover Fly
Subject: 1.5 to 2 inch bug hovering over garden
Geographic location of the bug: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Time: 02:02 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: We’ve got a serious Spotted Lantern fly invasion over here. As I swatted a few out in the back porch I happened to see something hovering and then landing on a flower plant in my garden. I was shocked to see what looked like a giant wasp or hornet. It was about 1.5 to 2 inches in length. I searched for the slim waist to identify if it was a wasp but it was think all over with large dark eyes. I ran in my house to get the phone to snap a picture. After a few unclear shots I crouched a bit to get a better shot and it saw me and flew like a flash to scope out where I was. I jetted outta there lol and fearfully stood behind my screen door watching it until it flew away. I searched online but could not find any-bug similar. Can you help me identify it.
How you want your letter signed: Best Regards Prisilla
Your account of your encounter with this Yellowjacket Hover Fly is riveting. Though it mimics a stinging insect for protection, the Yellowjacket Hover Fly is perfectly harmless. Here is a BugGuide image for comparison. Your individual is also a male, so it might have been staking out territory where it might find a suitable mate. According to BugGuide: “Flies aggressively and buzzes like a hornet. In the south, sometimes called the ‘[good] news bee’ for its habit of hovering in front of a person ‘giving the news’. It is also said to be good luck if one can get the insect to perch on a finger, no doubt because this is difficult to do.”
Letter 19 – Mating Syrphid Flies
Hi. I sent you a photo of a spider the other day and I also wanted to send you this photo of the hover flies (?) mating. These little guys are very photogenic.
Thank you for sending in your photo of mating Syrphid Flies.
Letter 20 – Syrphid Fly
What kind of bee is this?
Found this bee in the mountains of centeral Idaho just below McCall. Do you know what kind it is? Is it a honey bee?
This is a Syrphid Fly, also known as a Hover Fly. It looks to us like a female Sericomyia chrysotoxoides according to this image on BugGuide.
Letter 21 – Syrphid Fly
what’s this insect?
a small dipterid, about 1/2″. Can you ID?
We are guessing this was shot in the same location as your Argiopes, near San Francisco. We will try to get Eric Eaton to provide and identification. Eric quickly supplied the following information: ” The fly is a male (eyes meet at top of head) Syrphid of some kind. Need more images to even entertain a genus.”
Letter 22 – Syrphid FLy
Bee? Fly? Beefly?
I took this photo of an insect that looks like half bee, half fly. I called it a beefly. Can you tell me what it is? Thanks! Enjoy your site immensely!
This is a Syrphid Fly. We believe we have found an exact species match on BugGuide with Helophilus fasciatus.
Letter 23 – Syrphid Fly
unknown bug in northern va
I can’t find this insect anywhere. I think it is a type
of dragonfly, but I’m not sure. It was hovering and
moving quickly near the edge of a creek in Sterling, VA. I
saw a second on further down the creek. it moved so
fast it was hard to get a photo at all! I’d like to
be able to title the photo appropriately, thanks for any help
you can give me!
Sara M. Applegate
This is a true fly. It looks to us like Ocyptamus
fascipennis, one of the Syrphid Flies. It might be another
species in the genus. Your photo does not clearly render the
wings, which would help in species identification. You can
see many images from this genus on BugGuide.
Letter 24 – Syrphid Fly
weird orange legged fly
I have noticed these all over Alberta Canada. I have no idea what kind of two winged fly it is. any ideas?
We haven’t had any luck identifying this creature. We hope Eric Eaton has the answer. Eric’s response: “The unidentified fly appears to be a syrphid, family Syrphidae. The classification I have not kept up with, but it reminds me of the genus Xylota. I’ll see if I can’t get more specific later on.” Later Eric added this: “It is either a species of Xylota, or Chalcosyrphus (which was split from Xylota some time ago).”
Update: May 22, 2011
Might this be Chalcosyrphus curvaria based on this BugGuide imagery?
Letter 25 – Syrphid Fly
this red and olden dragonfly like insect i am in capable of i dentifying my self please help.
Thu, Nov 13, 2008 at 4:52 PM
i found this bug on my Jamaican dogwood in south florida and i cant seem to find out what its is. i wasn’t sure if it was a dragon fly do to its small size it was about 1 inch long maybe a little longer but very small it had only 2 wings at least that i could see the head and thorax where golden yellow and looked fuzzy to me the the abdomen was almost florescent red and looked like if you where to poor a glass and cranberry juice and look through it but brighter when it fly it hovered then moved and hovered more however it was moving to fast and i was only able to see it when hovering.
Dear The Ruler,
This is a species of Syrphid Fly, Salpingogaster nepenthe, which we quickly identified on BugGuide. Syprhid Flies belong to the family Syrphidae, and certain groups have common names like Flower Flies or Hover Flies, but this lovely specimen does not have a common name. You can impress your neighbors by referring to it by the scientific tongue twister Salpingogaster nepenthe.
Letter 26 – Syrphid Fly
yellow jacket look alike? Fly or hornet?
Mon, Dec 15, 2008 at 5:29 AM
This should be a bee or hornet but the eyes and antennae made me wonder. Comparing to v. squamosa there are a lot of differences. This was on a garden flower in Berkeley CA in November, 2008.
This is actually a fly in the family Syrphidae, the Syrphid Flies, also known as Flower Flies or Hover Flies. We believe it is in the genus Epistrophe based on images posted to BugGuide.
Letter 27 – Syrphid Fly
Didn’t survive the hot stove…
May 16, 2010
I thought the huge eyes would be a dead, pardon the pun, giveaway, but I couldn’t locate anything that faintly resembled this bug. Hoping you can help me identify this one…
Great Smoky Mountains
This is some species of Syrphid Fly in the family Syrphidae. Syrphid Flies are commonly called Flower Flies or Hover Flies. We haven’t the time to search the extensive archives on BugGuide to properly identify the species right now.
Letter 28 – Syrphid Fly Larva
Hi. I do a lot of nature photography. I’m usually fairly successful at identifying the critters I find… but this one has me stumped! I’ve never seen one that I recall but I found the transparent jelly-like covering to be very interesting. It sort of has the strange appearance of a separate caterpillar inside. Can you please tell me what sort of caterpillar this might be? I’m located in Southern Middle Tennessee if that helps. Thank you,
The reason you could not identify your caterpillar is that it is not a caterpillar. This is a carnivorous, aphid-eating larva of a Syrphid Fly. Syrphid Flies are one of the most beneficial insects a home gardener can be lucky to have. Since the larvae eat aphids and the adult, bee mimic Syrphid Flies pollinate flowers, having Syrphid Flies is a win/win situation. See more Syrphid Fly Larvae and get more information on BugGuide.
Letter 29 – Syrphid Fly: Toxomerus marginatus
Toxomerus marginatus (syrphid fly)
Location: Naperville, IL
May 25, 2011 8:14 pm
It’s been a while! I photographed today what I swore was a sweat bee on my flowering chives. As I perused your site, exhausting the bee category, I came to the conclusion that it must be a fly. Starting at the bottom of the alphabet, I quickly came upon the Syrphid category. Is this a Toxomerus marginatus? Its markings look like it, although the abdomen on my guy is slenderer than on most of the Toxomerus marginatus photos I have seen. What think you? Thank you! -Dori Eldridge, Naperville, IL.
Signature: -Dori Eldridge
We absolutely cannot resist a subject line with a Latin name that indicates that the querant actually did some research. We agree that this is a Syrphid Fly or Hover Fly or Flower Fly in the family Syrphidae, and we acknowledge that many Syrphid Flies mimic bees and wasps. It is also noteworthy that Syrphid Flies are good pollinators that really love umbel flowers like carrot blossoms and dill weed. Many Syrphid Flies have larvae that feed on Aphids. We don’t know if you have correctly identified this Syrphid as Toxomerus marginatus, but if we have time, we will look it up tomorrow and provide an opinion.
Hi again Dori,
After a good night’s sleep, we concur with your identification after checking the photos posted to BugGuide.
Thank you, Daniel!
I love flowers; I love birds; I love bugs. I love to take photos and identify them with proper names, so your help is enormously appreciated.
Thank you so, so much!
All the best,
Letter 30 – Three Lined Fly swatted in New Zealand
Subject: What is this insect?
Geographic location of the bug: Christchurch New Zealand
Time: 08:58 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I’m unsure what this is, at first I thought it was a blowfly so I swatted it and then I noticed the yellow colouring on its back and was worried it may be a bee of some sort
How you want your letter signed: Isaac Thomas
This is a harmless Three Lined Hoverfly, Helophilus seelandicus. According to Landcare Research: “Attracts attention because of its noisy flight. Important pollinator of flowers. Larvae are rat tailed maggots which live in liquid containing rotting plants or animals.”
Letter 31 – Probably Syrphid Fly Larva on Milkweed
Subject: catapillar species?
Location: Fullerton, California
August 15, 2017 6:37 am
Have found several of these on a California native milkweed, Asclepias fascicularis. They are quite sedentary and don’t seem to be eating the leaves or flowers. They are hard to photograph clearly, as the ‘skin’ is oddly transparent.
We do not recognize your caterpillar, and unfortunately, searching online for caterpillars on milkweed leads to Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars, which this is clearly not. We will attempt to research this further, but meanwhile, we will post it as unidentified. Perhaps one of our readers will recognize it.
Ed. Note: August 16, 2017
Thanks to a comment from Cesar Crash, we agree this is most likely the larva of a Syrphid Fly (see BugGuide ) which would mean it was probably feeding on Aphids.
Letter 32 – Unknown Fly: Syrphid Fly
I would like to know what species of dipteran fly this is. It was found in Kansas City, Missouri on a Queen Annes Lace stem and measures 5-8mm in length. I am familiar with the tabanid and deer-fly eye colors, but this one’s eyes are fascinating!!! I have checked several guides as well and cannot find the species. Thank you for your time in reviewing these pictures!!
While searching for another amazing fly photo sent to us on July 7, we stumbled upon your letter. Our email inbox is truly a black hole where things appear and disappear at whim, and we figured we needed to post your submission before it too gets lost. We now doubt we will ever locate the original object of our desire which seems to have vanished into the ether. Based on the antennae, your fly reminds us of a Soldier Fly in the family Stratiomyidae, but we can’t find a convincing match on BugGuide. We will see if Eric Eaton can assist or perhaps another of our readers knows the answer.
The fly is actually a syrphid, in the genus Orthonevra. Great image!
Letter 33 – What’s Buzzing The Baccharis in Elyria Canyon Park??? Part 2
The Baccharis in Elyria Canyon Park is still buzzing with activity.
Location: Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, CA
October 6, 2012
There were at least four individual Painted Ladies, Vanessa cardui, nectaring on the Baccharis this morning at about 9:30. Though most of them were wary and kept their distance, this diminutive beauty, the smallest of them all, posed just a few feet from the camera. This photo nicely illustrates the white bar on the forewing that is a distinguishing feature.
Though the closed wing shot is of a different individual, we are confident that all the Ladies we observed today were Painted Ladies and not the similar looking West Coast Ladies or American Ladies. The spots on the underwings of this individual are identifying features of the Painted Lady.
A lone Gulf Fritillary was also observed on the Baccharis as was a large Mexican Cactus Fly, a member of the Flower Fly family Syrphidae, and countless Honey Bees which were furiously gathering nectar.
Letter 34 – Good News Bee
Subject: Good News Bee!
Geographic location of the bug: Smithville, Tennessee
Time: 11:34 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Hey Daniel, your site allowed me to identify this great bug as a Good News Bee! Loved the story about it. Thought you might enjoy this great picture.
How you want your letter signed: James Davison
Your image of a Yellowjacket Hover Fly or Good News Bee is a wonderful addition to our archives.
Letter 35 – Good News Bee
Subject: Huge Southern Yellow Jacket
Location: Augusta, Georgia
October 17, 2013 4:19 am
What is this huge yellow jacket? Wasp? Hornet? In Georgia.
Signature: Terrified of things that sting
This is a Yellow Jacket Hoverfly or Good News Bee. It is perfectly harmless. Your fall leaves are a lovely background.
Letter 36 – Good News Bee
Subject: Huge yellow jacket?
Geographic location of the bug: Central Virginia
Time: 09:34 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: Found this monster in my garden today, 7/9/19. It was roughly an inch size. Is this thing a massive yellow jacket or a hornet? How concerned should I be that there are more of them nearby? I do have young kids.
How you want your letter signed: Thanks! Kelsey
You have nothing to fear. Your children are safe, at least from this Yellowjacket Hover Fly which is also known as a Good News Bee. Many harmless Hover Flies in the family Syrphidae mimic stinging insects as protective mimicry.
Letter 37 – Good News Bee
Subject: What’s this bug?
Geographic location of the bug: West Chester, PA
Time: 10:01 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I saw this bug today, and I have never seen it before. It flew very strangely compared to other bees. Does it sting?
How you want your letter signed: Julia
It is somewhat troubling to us that this harmless creature is alive in one image, and appears dead in the second. It is our mission to educate the public about insects and other things that crawl, and since the Yellowjacket Hover Fly is harmless, we consider this to be an example of Unnecessary Carnage.