Welcome to the Hoverflies/Drone Flies Photo Gallery

- Pictures by David Adamson

Some hoverflies look like bees, while others are easily mistaken for wasps; however, there are two very significant differences. Hoverflies do not sting, and they have only two wings rather than four wings. This visual mimicry reduces the risk of hoverflies being eaten by those predators that are aware that bees and wasps can sting. (It is also reported that bees and wasps taste awful, but as we know tastes do vary!)

Eristalis
arbustorum
Hoverfly Eristalis arbustorum
Eristalis
tenax
Hoverfly Eristalis tenax
Rhingia
campesteris
Hoverfly Rhingia campestris
Volucella
zonaria
(f)
Hoverfly Volucella zonaria (female)
Volucella
zonaria
(m)
Hoverfly Volucella zonaria (male)
Episyrphus
balteatus
Hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus
Leucozona
glaucia
Hoverfly Leucozonia glaucia
Sericomyia
silentis
Hoverfly Sericomyia silentis
Syrphus
ribesii
Hoverfly Syrphus ribesii
Helophilus
pendulus
Hoverfly Helophilus pendulus

Hoverflies in Britain and Ireland

Worldwide there are some 6000 or so hoverfly species, colourful insects of which about 280 (less than 5% of the world's hoverfly species) have been recorded in Britain. Some are a mere 1cm in length, while a few grow as big as 2.5cm.

Hoverfly larve are equally harmless to humans. There are some that feed on aphids and are therefore warmly welcomed by gardeners; however, others are known to eat fungi, plant leaves or bulbs. The bee-mimic Eristalis tenax, known as the Common Dronefly, lays its eggs in stagnant water. Its larva has a long breathing tube that allows it to browse upon rotting vegetation on the bed of shallow water while breathing air at the surface. This larva is commonly referred to as the Rat-tailed Maggot.

t-tailed Maggot

Rat-tailed Maggot (Picture: anon., via U. Florida)

Hoverflies are most evident in parks and gardens at the adult stage which, depending on species, is between March and November. Most adult hoverflies feed on flowers, drinking nectar and eating pollen and/or honeydew, although there are also carnivorous hoverflies that feed on small dead insects.

We hope to extend the Hoverflies Gallery as time permits. In In the meantime, if you spot any errors please get in touch; we are always grateful for any help and advice.