Syrphid Fly, Flower Fly, Family Syrphidae
Hoverflies, also known as flower flies or syrphid flies, are a group of beneficial insects commonly found in gardens, fields, and other natural areas. They are named for their ability to hover in the air like a helicopter and are often mistaken for bees or wasps due to their similar appearance. They feed on nectar and pollen as adults, and their larvae feed on aphids and other small insects, making them an important part of integrated pest management programs.
Where to find them
Hoverflies are found worldwide, from temperate regions to tropical environments. The exact number of hoverfly species is not well known, but it is estimated that there are over 6,000 species, with new species being discovered and described regularly. They have a diverse range of adaptations and behaviors, with some species specializing in feeding on specific types of plants or prey.
Hoverflies have a distinctive appearance, with a round, plump body and transparent wings. They can be yellow, orange, black, or brown in color, and some species have distinctive patterns on their bodies, such as stripes or spots. They are often mistaken for bees or wasps, but they do not sting or bite and are completely harmless to humans.
The larvae of hoverflies are elongated and cylindrical in shape and are often found on plants where they feed on aphids and other small insects.
The life cycle of a hoverfly typically consists of four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.
Egg: The female hoverfly lays eggs on plants where the larvae will feed, typically on the undersides of leaves. The eggs are small, cylindrical, and white in color.
Larva: The eggs hatch into larvae, which are elongated and cylindrical in shape. The larvae feed on aphids, mites, and small insects.
Pupa: When the larvae have reached maturity, they will pupate, forming a cocoon in which they undergo metamorphosis and transform into adult hoverflies.
Adult: The adult hoverflies emerge from the pupa, and they feed on nectar and pollen, playing an important role as pollinators. They also mate and lay eggs, starting the cycle anew.
The entire life cycle of a hoverfly can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months, depending on environmental conditions and the species of hoverfly. However, they are generally a quick-cycle species and can produce several generations yearly.
Why a Beneficial Insect?
Hoverflies are considered beneficial insects for several reasons:
Pest control: The larvae of hoverflies feed on aphids, mites, and small insects, helping to control populations of these pests in gardens, fields, and other natural areas.
Pollination: As adults, hoverflies feed on nectar and pollen, and they play an important role as pollinators, helping to transfer pollen from flower to flower and aiding in the reproduction of many plant species.
Ecological balance: Hoverflies play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of insect populations in ecosystems. They are an important part of many food chains, serving as both predators and prey.
Harmless to humans: Hoverflies do not bite, sting, or carry any diseases, and they are completely harmless to humans, pets, and other non-target species.
Sustainable pest control: By controlling pest populations in a natural and sustainable way, hoverflies can help reduce the need for chemical pesticides and maintain a healthy balance of insects in the ecosystem.
Attract this Beneficial Insect to your Garden
Hoverflies can be attracted to your garden or outdoor space by providing a suitable habitat and food source. Here are some ways to attract hoverflies:
Plant flowers: Hoverflies feed on nectar and pollen, so planting a variety of flowering plants in your garden will provide a food source for adult hoverflies. Flowers that are rich in nectar and have flat tops, such as daisies, asters, yarrow, and zinnias, are especially attractive to hoverflies.
Provide a water source: Hoverflies also need a source of water, so a shallow dish or birdbath filled with water can be a great way to attract them.
Avoid pesticides: Pesticides can harm hoverflies and other beneficial insects, so it's important to avoid using them in your garden or outdoor space. Instead, consider using companion planting, hand-picking pests, or releasing beneficial insects, like ladybugs, to control pests.
Create a habitat: Hoverflies also need a suitable place to lay their eggs, so planting native plants, shrubs, and trees can provide a habitat for both adult and larval hoverflies.
By providing the right habitat and food source, you can attract hoverflies to your garden or outdoor space and enjoy their many benefits as pollinators and beneficial insects.
Sue Thomson, patrickkavanagh, Peter stenzel, Roger Lancefield, Flickr
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.