Hover Fly

  • Common Name(s): Hover Fly, Flower Fly, Syrphid Fly
  • Order: Diptera
  • Family: Syrphidae
  • Common Species: There are a ton of different Hover Flies; go based off of family
  • Commonly Confused With: Yellow Jackets, Bees, Hornets, Bombyliidae–Bee Flies


How to Identify?
Hover Fly adults vary in color, but the ones homeowners will most often come across will be gold and black or yellow and black. There are some species that are red and black, and some that are a vibrant green color (Species-Ornidia Obesa; they almost resemble Blow Flies). There are a number of ways to differentiate Hover flies from yellow jackets, bees, and other Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps/hornets). A Hover Fly has very large eyes, a fat, broad waist, short, stubby antenna, halteres (flight stabilizers that look like small maracas underneath the wings), and no stinger.


Where do they live?
Hover Flies live outdoors and are frequent garden visitors. If they happen to come indoors it is a mistake and they will not survive long.

Food Source

What do they eat?
Since Hover Flies have such species diversity, there is a lot of diversity in what they eat. Many of the adults feed on nectar or pollen and are beneficial pollinators. Many of the larvae feed on organic debris, but there are quite a few species that eat aphids (a garden pest in the order hemiptera–‘true bugs’) and even some that live inside of and feed on ant colonies.


What do they do?
These insects are not major home infesting pests. Most of the issues with Hover Flies arise when homeowners or gardeners mistake them for yellow jackets or other stinging pests. Their color and pattern mimicry is designed to keep them safe from predators, but it can also cause them to be feared by people. Many of these species are beneficial pollinators that can be respected from a safe distance!

Fun Fact

There is a type of Hover Fly larvae known as a rat-tailed maggot. They live in stagnant water with a lot of organic debris. The water they use for habitation is often poor in oxygen, so they have a breathing tube (siphon) attached to their backside in order to breathe air from under water, like a snorkel.

Additional Resources


Author: G. Wyatt West– B.S.E.S University of Georgia 2017; Board Certified Entomologist

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