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Hover Fly - Family Syrphidae

This page contains pictures and information about Hover Flies that we found in the Brisbane area, Queensland, Australia.

Hovering above my head
 
Hover Flies are also know as Flower Flies. Some species are called Drone Flies. Hover Flies may sometimes confused with stinging bees or wasps because of their mimic colour (Batesian mimics of Hymenoptera). Their bodies are slender, from small to medium in size.  On their abdomen there are the yellow-black wasps pattern and the narrow waist mimic pattern. Hover Flies visit  flowers as bees and wasps. They are major pollinators of some flower plants. They are usually seen hovering or resting on flowers. The flies feed on nectar and are the pollinators of plants as well. 
 
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Hovering even when mating   
 
Like most other flies, Hover Flies have very large eyes and short antenna. They have one pair of wings which are clear in colour.

Most larvae of the Hover Flies are predators of many soft body insects such as aphids, scale insects, thrips, and caterpillars. We sometimes see the Hover Flies searching for the aphids. Beside nectar, Hover Flies feed on honey dew produced by aphids as well. Some species of Hover Flies lay eggs near the aphids colony. Their maggot-like larvae are the predators of aphids. 

Some larvae in this family live in ant nests, where they live as scavengers or predators.

Both flies in Hover flies family and Bee Flies (Bombyliidae) family mimic bees. The main character to recognize between them is Bee Flies have longer wings. Hover Flies have shorter wings with a series of closed cell on the wings hind margins. 


Common Hover Fly I
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Ischiodon scutellaris Syrphinae, adult body length 10mm, larvae feeding on aphids, body length 10mm.
We sometimes find this Hover fly hovering among the hibiscus plants in our backyard searching for aphids.  Their larvae are the predator of aphids. The adults are yellow and black in colour look like bees or a wasps. They have the typical fly head with large pair of red compound eyes and very short antenna. More pictures and information please visit this page.
 
  
Common Hover Fly II
Melangyna viridiceps, Syrphinae, body length 15mm
This Hover Fly look similar to the Ischiodon scutellaris above, except the thorax is all black.
Reference:
1. Melangyna viridiceps (Macquart) - Australian Insect Common Names, CSIRO, 2005.
 
 
Common Hover Fly III
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Simosyrphus grandicornis, Syrphinae, body length 10mm.
The above picture shows another species of Hover Flies.  
Reference:
1. Simosyrphus grandicornis (Macquart) - Australian Insect Common Names, CSIRO, 2005.
 
 
Black-banded Hoverfly
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Episyrphus viridaureus, Syrphinae, body length 10 mm
We found many of them in Yugarapul Park during early summer. This is a small hover fly mimicking wasp. This fly even have the narrow waist.
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The females lay eggs on leaves. Their larvae are the predator of aphids.  
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Reference:
1. Black-banded Hover Fly - lifeunseen.com, by Nick Monaghan
 
 
Native Drone Fly
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Eristalinus punctulatus, Eristalinae, body length 10mm
Picture taken in Wishart Outlook along Bulimba Creek during a very hot day in late summer. The fly was resting on a Acacia leaf. The fly produces a loud buzz similar to bee. More information can be found in this page.
 
 
Drone Fly
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Eristalinus sp., Eristalinae, body length 8mm.
The Drone fly in appearance bears a close resemblance to a honeybee. The larva has a long thin tail, thus, called a Rat-tailed Maggot. The rat-tailed maggot usually breeds in drains, sewage pools, and other stagnant water. 
Thanks to Gerard Pennards for the ID advice of this species. 
 
 
Wasp-mimicking Hoverfly
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Mesembrius Eristalinae, body length 10mm, female, male 
We often found this wasp-mimic fly in bush during early summer. It has dark colour wings, yellow and black bands body and large eyes, the warning colours just good enough to mimic a wasp. But it has short antenna, one pair of wings and those tell it is a fly. Please click on here for more information.
 
 
Hoverfly
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Austalis , Eristalinae, body length 8mm. 
We found many of them in Yugarapul Park during early summer. 
Thanks to Gerard Pennards for the ID advice of this species. 
1. Eristalis tenax (Linnaeus) - Australian Insect Common Names, CSIRO, 2005.
2. Insects of Australia - CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, p764.
 
 
Hoverfly
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Austalis , Eristalinae, body length 8mm. 
Picture taken in Alexandra Hill near the creek during early summer.
Thanks to Gerard Pennards for the ID advice of this species. 
Reference:
1. Syrphidae - Insects of Townsville, Australia - Graeme Cocks, 2004.
 
 
Small Hoverfly
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Eumerus sp., Eristalinae, body length 6mm
This hoverfly is relatively smaller. We saw them only once in Alexandra Hill during late summer. We saw some of them feeding on the pink wild flowers Grass Lily, ( also known as Slug Herb or Blue Murdannia, Murdannia graminea, family Campanulaceae). This flower is common in Alexandra Hill.
Thanks to Gerard Pennards for the ID advice of this species. 
 
 
Black Wasp-mimic Fly
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Microdon sp., Eristalinae, body length 6mm
Found in Karawatha Forest near the Lagoon, Sep 2008.
Thanks to Gerard Pennards for the ID advice of this species. 
Reference:
1. Insects of Australia - CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, Fig39.27B.
 
 
Small Hoverfly
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? sp., body length 8mm
Pictures were taken in Venman Bushland on May 2010.  
 
 
Wasp-mimic Hoverfly
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Ceriana sp., (Cerioides sp.), Eristalinae, Cerioidini, body length 12mm
Pictures were taken in Karawatha Forest near the Lagoon on Sep 2010. There were a few of them on a large gum tree trunk. They rested on the tree trunk and dip its abdomen on the bark surface regularly, seemed putting some invisible marks on the tree trunk. We did not known what exactly they were doing. 
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This hoverfly mimics Eumenin Wasp. Its face even have the wasp's jaw pattern.
Reference:
1. Insects of Australia - CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, pl 6U.

Reference:
1. Insects of Australia - CSIRO, Division of Entomology, Melbourne University Press, 2nd Edition 1991, p763.
2. Insects of Australia and New Zealand - R. J. Tillyard, Angus & Robertson, Ltd, Sydney, 1926, p368.
3. Family SYRPHIDAE - Australasian/Oceanian Diptera Catalog - Web Version, by F. Christian Thompson & J.R. Vockeroth, 2007  

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Last updated: September 19, 2010.