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Syrphidae - Hoverflies



BRACHYCERA, Muscomorpha Aschiza, Syrphoidea

Number of British species: 274

Size: S-L

Difficulty: 1-3

Scheme: Covered by the Hoverfly recording scheme

See also the Hoverfly Recording Scheme web-site


Small to very large (3.5-35 mm), slender to stout flies, usually coloured black with white or yellow markings on head, thorax and especially abdomen; sometimes body largely brown, metallic yellow, green, or blue, or with a wide range of colours; in some cases strongly resembling bees, bumblebees, or wasps. Head large, without any distinct bristles, mostly consisting of eyes which are usually holoptic in the male. Third antennal segment usually the largest but sometimes first or second segment longer; third segment carrying an apical or dorsal arista or an apical style. Thorax with very few bristles. Wing usually clear, in some cases tinged or with markings; venation characteristic, virtually always with a spurious vein (vena spuria), less distinct or absent in Eristalinus and Psilota; vein M1 not reaching the wing margin but curving strongly forward and ending in vein R4+5 before the wing margin; cell dm present, cell below cell dm open; cell cup elongate, ending acutely just before the wing margin. Legs usually slender and simple but sometimes, especially in the male, with coxa, trochanter, femur, tibia, or tarsus modified and/or bearing spurs.


The larvae can be divided into mycophagous and phytophagous species (including a number of species being pests in agriculture, especially bulb cultivation); predators of other insects (such as aphids, ants, larvae of wasps or beetles, etc.), and species feeding on various types of organic detritus (decaying wood, sap exuding from tree wounds, organic detritus underneath tree bark or in nests of birds and other animals, leaf litter, liquid excrement or other organically enriched watery solutions). In some cases larvae of this latter group inhabit semi-aquatic to entirely aquatic habitats. The adults are common, conspicuous flies, to be found in various open to woodland habitats such as gardens, meadows, forest eaves, river banks, etc. They are able to hover in one place and are apparently capable of moving not only forward, but also backward and laterally. The adults feed on nectar and pollen, and several of the frequent visitors to flowers play an important part in pollinating certain plant species.


families/brachycera/aschiza/syrphidae.txt · Last modified: 2008/11/30 16:56 by brianh     Back to top
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