Hover files (Syrphinae, Diptera - true flies) are beneficial insects that appear in large numbers during the spring and summer. They are often mistaken for bees or wasps and can cause undue fear over possible stings.
Fortunately they do not have stings. Hover flies can be identified readily using the following information, thus alleviating needless fear and preventing the unnecessary destruction of these helpful insects.
Hover flies belong to the order Diptera and the family Syrphinae. As can be seen in Figures 1 and 2, hover files only have one pair of wings. In comparison, bees and wasps have two pairs of wings [2, 3]. During flight, many hover flies move in a characteristic way. As their name suggests, they can remain in one spot, but also dart to and fro. Hover flies may also have a typical fly's head with short antennae and bulbous eyes (Figures 1 and 2).
Management is not necessary and hover flies can be beneficial. They are considered the second most important pollinator next to bees. Also, some species of hover flies can control garden pests such as soft-bodied aphids and scale insects. The immature hover flies look like maggots (Figure 3) and hunt by touch. Their sharp mouths, pierce the skin of the prey prior to extracting body fluids (2, 3, 4).
For further information phone 136 186 for your local Plant Biosecurity Officer or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ashley, W. (2009) Good garden bugs. ABC Adelaide. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2009/11/21/2742166.htm (Accessed 20 October 2016).
- Australian Government, Department of the Environment and Energy (2016) Family Syrphidae, hoverflies, rat-tailed maggots [Web page]. Retrieved from https://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/SYRPHIDAE? (Accessed 20 October 2016).
- Australian Museum (2009) Animal species: Hover flies [Web page]. Retrieved from http://australianmuseum.net.au/hover-flies (Accessed 20 October 2016).
- Larson, B.M.H. et al. (2001) Flies and flowers: taxonomic diversity of anthophiles and pollinators, The Canadian Entomologist, 133(4), pp. 439–465.
- Gibb T. (2015) Do not confuse hover flies with sweat bees. Purdue Agriculture [Web page]. Retrieved from https://ag.purdue.edu/btny/ppdl/Pages/wh19082015.aspx (Accessed 20 October 2016).
- IPM Thailand (n. d.) Hover flies [Web page]. Retrieved from http://thailand.ipm-info.org/natural_enemies/predators/hover_flies.htm (Accessed 20 October 2016).