Just Another Nature Enthusiast

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What do you know about… Hoverflies?

What do you know about… Hoverflies?

I am becoming more and more fascinated by Hoverflies.

While gardening today, it appeared that two species were actively visiting a small patch of white flowering Creeping Betony  (Stachys densiflora ‘Alba’).

The largest, with a body about one inch long, was beautifully patterned on its abdomen… black with with yellow dash-marks around the perimeter.


The second variety was somewhat smaller with a body approximately three-quarters inch in length. There were three of these individuals all with black and yellow stripes on the abdomen.


The larger variety behaved aggressively towards one in a group of three other smaller individuals. It would circle around the flowers, locate its target, ram into the smaller Hoverfly, and dart off. The larger Hoverfly would light on a leaf for a moment, as if resting, then the process would be repeated. This has been going on for the better part of the afternoon.


I’m wondering if this is part of a mating ritual, or perhaps a vie for territory. Do you know?

One thing I can say… if you have Hoverflies in your garden, that is a GOOD thing. There are thousands of species world-wide. Adult Hoverflies are pollinators, feeding on pollen and nectar. The larvae are also beneficial.; they are slug-like and eat aphids.

It’s interesting to learn that many hoverflies mimic the coloration and/or hairiness of social bees and wasps. This enables them to avoid attack by predators who regard them as potentially able to sting. This form of mimicry is termed Batesian mimicry.

These insects deserve recognition. Share what you know, please.

Science behind this post:


If you find a good site…please, share that too!

10 comments on “What do you know about… Hoverflies?”

  1. Great pictures! Last summer I took hundreds of pictures of bumble bees so I know how hard it is to get a good sharp picture. They just move around so much.
    I don’t think I’ve seen any of these but I will have to look.
    Do you know the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation? i checked their site – no hoverflies there, but there might be something else you are interested in. http://www.xerces.org/

  2. Bumble bees are a species that concerns me. (In fact, a draft for some posts about them is still in progress. The Xerces Society is an amazing resource.)

    I didn’t think to check Xerces for information on Hoverflies. Glad you took a look. Disappointing you didn’t see any info there… that would have been an excellent resource.

  3. Fascinating information and photographs! I’ve probably swatted a few away, thinking they were wasps. I’ll think twice next time! 🙂

  4. Hello Cindi-
    Thank you for taking an interest in Hoverflies! It would be interesting to see what Hoverflies look like in Norway. Maybe you will have an opportunity to post a photo sometime. (A thought just popped into my head… do you think this topic would make a good photo challenge? There are apparently thousands of species world-wide!)

    Although this link is about Oregon insects… the insect info. cards include look-alike species. The card about hoverflies shows a comparison with wasps.


  5. I am wondering about that, too, Debbie. The same ritual was going on again this afternoon. I also thought it irritating that the bumper also shooed away a bona fide bumble bee. (We are seeing fewer of those this year.)
    I caught a shot of the larger hoverfly as it bumped into the stripe-tail hoverfly.
    I’m posting that one on my Instagram site in a few minutes. There’s a widget at the base of my blog, if you’re interested 🙂

    BTW- let me know if you spot any Hoverflies down your way. I bet you’ll see them now that we’ve chatted about them 😉
    Funny the things that catch your attention sometimes!

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