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*** Note: KnowYourInsects.org does its best to include correct identifications of insect photos. It’s always possible that we made a mistake, however, so if you see a misidentification, please contact us and we will correct it. Thanks!

Order Diptera: the flies — Examples

Now on THREE pages

Families represented — Page 1 (current page):
Suborder Brachycera
Calliphoridae Oestridae Pallopteridae Platystomatidae Polleniidae Pyrgotidae
Rhiniidae Sarcophagidae Syrphidae Tachinidae Tephritidae Ulidiidae
Page 2:
Suborder Brachycera
Anthomyiidae Asilidae Bombyliidae Chloropidae Chyromyidae Conopidae Dolichopodidae Drosophilidae Empididae
Celyphidae Ephydridae Fannidae Hippoboscidae Lauxaniidae Lonchaeidae Micropezidae Milichiidae Muscidae Mydidae
Neriidae Pantophthalmidae Rhagionidae Scathophagidae Sepsidae Stratiomyidae Tabanidae Therevidae Xylomyidae
Page 3:
Suborder Nematocera
Bibionidae Cecidomyiidae Ceratopogonidae Chironomidae Culicidae Limoniidae Mycetophilidae
Pediciidae Psychodidae Ptychopteridae Scatopsidae Sciaridae Tipulidae Trichoceridae

Syrphidae, the flower and hover flies

Syrphid Fly (Syrphidae)
Golden pushback, Palpada mexicana, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The golden pushback has a lot of orange pubescence (fuzz) on its thorax, and thin yellow bands on its abdomen. The abdomen also has orange blotches on the dark sections of the abdomen.
Photographed and identified by: Joyce Salazar. Location: Imperial Beach, California, USA. Date: 2 August, 2017.
Hover fly (Palpada furcata)
Tropical plushback, Palpada furcata, male, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The tropical plushback has a soft gray thorax with black stripes; thin, white bands on the abdomen; and often gray smudges along the sides of the abdomen. Note: According to BugGuide, some experts believe the United States population should actually be listed as a separate species.
Photographed and identified to order by: Mike Bloodsworth. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Mike’s full-size image here. Location: Smith County, Texas, USA. Date: 13 July, 2012.
Hover fly (Palpada furcata)
Tropical plushback, Palpada furcata, female, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ In many flies, including the tropical plushback, the female’s eyes are not quite as large as the male’s. Compare this species with the male posted elsewhere on this page.
Photographed and identified by: Sheldon Boyd. Well done on the ID, Sheldon! Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 15 December, 2017.
Transverse Flower Fly (Eristalis transversa)
Transverse flower fly, Eristalis transversa, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The transverse flower fly has an abdomen with a pair of wide, triangular, yellow markings followed by three, thin, yellow bands. It also has a yellow oval on its scutellum (the rearward section of the thorax).
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Gaylord, Michigan, USA. Date: 18 July, 2017.
Tapered Drone Fly (Eristalis pertinax)
Tapered drone fly, Eristalis pertinax, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This appears to be a tapered drone fly, which has a dark brown abdomen with two yellow patches, each of which is wide at the side and tapered toward the middle. The patches are visible in the left photo. It also has hairs on its eyes, which can be seen in the right photo.
Photographed and identified to order by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ivybridge, South Devon, England, UK. Date: 16 March, 2018.
Bryan says, “Apart from the two yellow bits each side at top of abdomen, other bands seem to be subdued black and grey rings.”
Hover Fly (Eristalis spp.)
A hover fly in the genus Eristalis, possibly a tapered drone fly, Eristalis pertinax, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This is one of numerous species of hover flies that look similar to bees. A good way to distinguish flies from bees is to look at the antennae. As a rule, bees have obvious antennae, while flies have short, often barely noticeable antennae that are often are extremely thin and look like little hairs, as shown in the close-up photo here.
Photographed and identified to order by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ivybridge, South Devon, England, UK. Date: 16 March, 2018.
Hoverfly (Eristalis arbustorum)
European drone fly, Eristalis arbustorum, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ One of the features of this European drone fly is the black marking on its first abdominal segment (the one closest to the “waist”) that looks somewhat like a “Y.” This species of hoverfly also has thin white bands between each abdominal segment, a white face, and black-and-yellow-banded legs.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 8 April, 2017.
Hoverfly (Eristalis arbustorum)
European drone fly, female, Eristalis arbustorum, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The European hover fly is very similar in appearance to the closely related black-footed drone fly (Eristalis hirta), but the latter has a wide dark stripe in the center of its face from below the antennae to the mouth, and the individual in this photo does not have that feature. To see the black-footed drone fly, click here (BugGuide).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 14 September, 2019.
Thomas says, “This one looks somewhat different from my other images that you have on your website. The yellow is only on one segment, the white bands are much more brilliant and the legs have white instead of yellow.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Good eye, Thomas. This species does have variability!”
Hoverfly (Eristalis arbustorum)
European drone fly, Eristalis arbustorum, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This European hover fly has a faint white border along the trailing edge of each wing. Its scutellum (the structure at the rear of its thorax), is often a different color from the rest of the thorax. Sometimes the color difference is quite noticeable, but sometimes it is quite slight.
Photographed by: Kevin Mahon. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Grindleford, England, UK. Date: 9 August, 2020.
Insect facts
□ Many insects, including a good number of hover flies, use a mating strategy called hilltopping: The male sits at the top of an elevated point that affords a good view of approaching females, so he can get to her before other males do. To learn more, click here (The Southwestern Naturalist).
Stripe-Eyed Flower Fly (Eristalinus taeniopa)
Stripe-eyed flower fly, Eristalinus taeniopa, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The stripe-eyed flower fly is sometimes called a band-eyed drone fly, both referring to its attention-grabbing eyes (as shown). Originally from southern Europe, Africa and the Middle East, this species was first spotted in Orange County, California in 2006. This photo was taken nearby in San Bernardino County, California.
Photographed and identified to order by: Steet Monk. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ontario, California, USA. Date: 11 July, 2021.
Steet says, “As you can see, it was like staring me down or taunting me to swat it with a rolled up paper. I didn’t do it because I was afraid it would take it away from me and hit me with it, LOL.”
Stripe-Eyed Flower Fly (Eristalinus taeniopa)
Stripe-eyed flower fly, Eristalinus taeniopa, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The stripe-eyed flower fly is a new addition to Florida, and began appearing in backyards around 2015. This one was photographed in Florida in 2021.
Marv Goldberg. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tamarac, Florida, USA. Date: 22 March, 2021.
Marv says, “Cool eyes (or possibly designer sunglasses).”
Hoverfly (Eristalis intricarius)
Furry drone fly, Eristalis intricarius, female, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The photographer at first thought this furry drone fly was a bee, but then astutely noticed the tiny antennae much different from those of a bee. Another feature of flies vs. bees is that bees have four wings, and flies have only two, but wings are difficult to count unless are fully extended and the insects is not moving!
Photographed by: Alexandra Rasmussen. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: northwest England, UK. Date: 24 April, 2020.
Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax)
Common drone fly, Eristalis tenax, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This honey bee lookalike is actually a common drone fly. Like the honey bee, this fly is native to Europe but has spread nearly to much of the world, except Antarctica.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 8 July, 2022.
Hoverfly (Eristalinus arvorum)
Spotted-eye syrphid fly, Eristalinus arvorum, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This spotted-eye syrphid fly lives up to its name with its big, brown-spotted, light-green eyes. The vertical striping on the thorax and horizontal banding on the abdomen are also striking features of this fly.
Photographed by: Melissa Cervantes. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Central Luzon Philippines. Date: 3 October, 2020.
Hoverfly (Eristalinus arvorum)
A syrphid fly, possibly a spotted-eye syrphid fly, Eristalinus arvorum, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The spotted-eye syrphid fly has a huge distribution: from Hawaii all the way to India and down to Australia. The banding on the abdomen can vary quite a bit between individuals with some having wider dark bands (as seen here) and others with thin dark bands and a dark stripe down the center of the abdomen.
Photographed by: Roshan Pillai. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Mumbai, India. Date: 25 January, 2018.
Roshan describes this as a “a weird-looking fly idling on tulsi leaf (in the genus Ocimum,” and adds, “Looks like a big cousin of housefly to me. Must have been 1 cm (0.4 inches) long.”
Add your photo here! Lesser Hornet Hover Fly (Volucella inanis)
Lesser hornet hover fly, Volucella inanis, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Look closely at this lesser hornet hover fly to see the yellow abdomen with its black bands. Also take note of its head: This species has an unusual, elongate and diamond-shaped “face.” If you’re a Star Wars buff, its face just may remind you of the fictional character called a Garindan :-) The adult lesser hornet hoverfly dines on flower nectar. Females lay their eggs in a wasp/hornet nest, and the larvae continue to live and develop there.
Photographed by: Michael Meegan. Identified by: Dr. Christian Kehlmaier of the Dresden Museum of Zoology in Berlin, Germany. Thank you, Dr. Kehlmaier! Location: Berlin, Germany. Date: 5 June, 2018.
Hornet Mimic Hover Fly (Volucella zonaria)
Hornet mimic hover fly, Volucella zonaria, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The size of the hornet mimic hover fly can be up to 2.5 cm (an inch) long, which was the size of this specimen. The large size, plus the pretty red-brown color on its thorax and striping on its abdomen, helped to identify this hover fly.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Nicely done, Bryan! Location: Ivybridge, South Devon, UK. Date: 26 July, 2019.
Hornet Mimic Hover Fly (Volucella zonaria)
Hornet mimic hover fly, possibly Volucella zonaria, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□The hornet mimic hover fly has a striped yellow abdomen. This one measured about 1.8 cm (0.7 inches) in length. It is sometimes called a belted hover fly.
Photographed and identified by: Clive Mountney. Well done on the ID, Clive! Location: Shipton Bellinger, Hampshire, UK. Date: 2 August, 2019.
Hornet Mimic Hover Fly (Volucella zonaria)
Hornet mimic hover fly, Volucella zonaria, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□The hornet mimic hover fly has a slight darkening of its wings toward the trailing edge. Its abdomen has an ombré look, moving from a darker brown to lighter brown.
Photographed and identified by: Hayley Chafer. Location: Milton Keynes, UK. Date: 31 July, 2021.
Hornet Mimic Hover Fly (Volucella zonaria)
Hornet mimic hover fly, Volucella zonaria, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The female of the hornet mimic hover fly lays its eggs inside hornet and wasps nests, and the hatching larvae live and grow in the nest peacefully.
Photographed by: Barbara Jones. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Warwick, Warwickshire, UK. Date: 8 July, 2019.
Barbara says, “I found this in my conservatory.”
Hornet Mimic Hover Fly (Volucella zonaria)
Hornet mimic hover fly, Volucella zonaria, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
Hornet mimic hover flies migrate from cooler climates in summer to warmer climates in the winter. Its wintering area is the Mediterranean region. As the climate has warmed, NatureSpot.org reports that it has been expanding farther and farther north in the UK in the summer.
Photographed by: Oscar Villegas. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: UK. Date: 13 July, 2021.
Hornet Mimic Hover Fly (Volucella zonaria)
A hover fly in the genus Volucella, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Two similar-appearing species in this genus are the hornet mimic hover fly (Volucella zonaria) and lesser hornet hover fly (Volucella inanis), which is the smaller of the two. Volucella zonaria reaches about about 2.5 cm (an inch) in body length; and Volucella inanis reaches about 1.5 cm (0.6 inches) in body length.
Photographed by: Maggie Brice. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Portsmouth, England, UK. Date: 31 July, 2019.
Insect facts
□ Some flies, including those in the hover fly family, have a noticeable extra flap on the wing. The flap is at the base of the wing, near the body. Flies use the flap, which is called a calypter (or an alula in some cases), to direct their flight. To read more, click here (Journal of the Royal Society Interface).
Add your photo here!
Pellucid Fly (Volucella pellucens)
Pellucid fly, Volucella pellucens, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ It looks as if the print on this cloth may have confused this pellucid fly — it certainly has the same bee-like appearance as the print!
Photographed and identified to order by: Chris Parry. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Powis Castle (Castell Powys), Welshpool, UK. Date: 17 July, 2019.
Chris says, “Found this fella checking out a bee bag hanging in a porch.”
Pellucid Fly (Volucella pellucens)
Pellucid fly, Volucella pellucens, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ For those folks who are curious about whether the white abdominal band of a pellucid fly extends to the underside, the photo at right provides the answer. Note: Its species name of derives from the word pellucid, which means translucent, and the white band is translucent under the right lighting. This fly is sometimes called a large pied hoverfly — pied means bi-colored and refers to its black-and-white body color.
Photographed and identified by: Phill Parslow. Nicely done, Phill! Location: UK. Date: 10 July, 2021.
Phill says, “Captured this today. Very large — around 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) long, tip to tail, and extremely noisy!!!”
Pellucid Fly (Volucella pellucens)
Pellucid fly, Volucella pellucens, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ One of the largest species of hover flies in the UK, the pellucid fly can reach 1.5 cm (0.6 inches) long. The larvae (maggots) of this fly live in bumblebee nests, where they eat the waste products of the bees. Their clean-up duty comes at a price, because according to NatureSpot, they also will eat the bee larvae.
Photographed by: Deborah Ball. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Sandy, Bedfordshire, UK. Date: 9 July, 2019.
Debbie says she found it in her garden.
Pellucid Fly (Volucella pellucens)
Pellucid fly, Volucella pellucens, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ One of the features of the pellucid fly is the orange tinge on the forward section of the wings. The tinge is visible in this photo.
Photographed by: Kate Holder. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Oxford, UK. Date: 6 July, 2021.
Pellucid Fly (Volucella pellucens)
Pellucid fly, Volucella pellucens, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The pellucid fly looks quite similar to a blotched wing hover fly (Leucozona lucorum). Both have white blotches on the abdomen and a black stripe on each wing. To see the blotched wing hover fly and learn about the differences, see the blotched wing hover fly entry.
Photographed and identified by: Sophie Postlethwaite. Nicely done on the ID, Sophie! Location: Askam-in-Furness, UK. Date: 9 July, 2021.
Sophie says, “Thanks for helping me identify it through your website.”
Common Spotted Field Hover fly (Eupeodes luniger)
Common spotted field hoverfly, Eupeodes luniger, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Widespread in Europe (this one was photographed in France), the common spotted field hoverfly is sometimes alternately known as a common spotted field syrphid or black-tailed aphideater. The latter comes from the diet of its larvae (maggots). The larvae eat aphids, particularly those found on conifer trees.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Nicely done on the ID, Eric! Location: Lille, France. Date: 10 June, 2023.
Yellow Jacket Hoverfly (Milesia virginiensis)
Yellow jacket hoverfly, Milesia virginiensis, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ At first glance, this yellow jacket hoverfly really does look like a bee or wasp! In some parts of the southern United States, it is even known as a “good news bee” because it looks like a bee and is thought be lucky if it lands on a person.
□ The United States Postal Service featured this pretty fly on a stamp issued in 1999. To see the stamp, click here (USStampGallery.com). Photographed and identified to family by: Sheldon Boyd. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 24 April, 2017.
Yellow jacket flower fly (Milesia virginiensis)
Yellow jacket flower fly, Milesia virginiensis, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The Yellow jacket flower fly can be rather intimidating with its hornet-like coloration and its habit of hovering in front of people’s faces, but it is completely harmless... albeit a bit irritating! This species is sometimes called a Virginia flower fly.
Photographed by: Eric Bruschi. Identified to tentative genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Corinth, Kentucky, USA. Date: 4 July, 2021.
Hover fly (Phytomia incisa)
Phytomia incisa (no specific common name), female, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This species of hover fly is often mistaken for a honeybee. Identifier Marc De Meyer says, “It is a species found throughout large parts of Africa.” For more information about this genus of flies, click here (the journal Zootaxa).
Photographed by: Natalie Rowles. Identified by: Marc De Meyer of the Royal Museum for Central Africa. Thank you, Dr. De Meyer! Location: Pinetown, South Africa. Date: 14 December, 2020.
Natalie says, “It sat still till I got my camera and took a few shots of it, sitting on a sweet pepper plant.”
Sun fly, aka footballer or tiger hover fly (Helophilus pendulus)
Sun fly, Helophilus pendulus, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The sun fly has other common names, including footballer and tiger hover fly.
□ It is one of several hover fly species with stripes on its thorax, but the markings on the abdomen are a bit different from the others. For instance, the two center marks often show slightly brighter yellow areas (two are just visible in this photo), almost as if someone dropped a tiny dollop of paint there.
Photographed and identified to family by: Mike Shergold. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK. Date: summer 2020.
Narrow-headed Marsh Fly (Helophilus fasciatus)
Narrow-headed marsh fly, also sometimes called a striped-back flower fly, Helophilus fasciatus, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The narrow-headed marsh fly is a rather large fly at about a half inch long (1.2 cm). It has thin yellow stripes on a black thorax, and yellow patterning on its abdomen. These flies are often found on sunshine-soaked flowers.
Photographed and identified to family by: Cheryl McClure. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hunt County, Texas, USA. Date: 9 March, 2019.
Narrow-headed Marsh Fly (Helophilus fasciatus)
Narrow-headed marsh fly, also sometimes called a striped-back flower fly, Helophilus fasciatus, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Adult narrow-headed marsh flies are seen in early spring and well into the fall. This one was photographed in mid-September in Michigan. In fact, they are some of the latest fall-flying hover flies (Syrphidae family).
□ See the importance of geography in the photographer’s comment below.
Photographed and identified to genus: Tori Thompson. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: metropolitan Detroit, Michigan, USA. Date: 15 September, 2022.
Tori says, “I thought this little guy was a bee until I used the Google app to look him up and it’s saying ‘Marsh Hover Fly’ (Helophilus pendulus). But when I look online, these are only listed as being on the West Coast.”
Insect facts
□ Flies in the family Syrphidae are collectively known as hover flies, and the adults are indeed often seen hovering over flowers much as bees do.
Yellow-haired Sun Fly (Myathropa florea)
Yellow-haired sun fly, Myathropa florea, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The photographer provided an excellent description of this yellow-haired sun fly: “very fuzzy underneath and at the sides, very rounded abdomen. Not very long, maybe about 10-12 mm” (0.4-0.5 inches). In addition, this fly has bold yellow markings on its abdomen, plus a pair of thin, light-gray bands across the center of the thorax (one is visible in this photo).
Photographed and identified as a hover fly by: Kate Hannon. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Llanwrda, West Wales, UK. Date: 7 July, 2022.
Yellow-haired sun fly (Myathropa florea)
Yellow-haired sun fly, Myathropa florea, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ A glow of yellow hairs cover the yellow-haired sun fly’s body, but the feature that often gets the most attention is the broad, dark-brown marking on its thorax that approximates the Batman logo.
Photographed by: Mike Trier. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, England, UK. Date: 25 April, 2021.
Yellow-haired sun fly (Myathropa florea)
Yellow-haired sun fly, female, Myathropa florea, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This yellow-haired sun fly was a particularly noticeable guest in the photographer’s yard (sitting on a finger at right). See the fun story of the encounter below.
Photographed and identified by: Mike Trier. Location: London, England, UK. Date: 11 May, 2024.
Mike says, “I heard a loud, resonating buzz coming from inside a terracota vessel (and) few moments later, out flew a hoverfly. Before it departed, it hovered for a moment directly in front of me - about a foot away and looking straight at me.” It returned several times, and Mike finally got these photos. He adds, “When it departed, it gave me the same farewell hover!”
Yellow-Haltered Leafwalker (Chalcosyrphus curvaria)
Yellow-haltered leafwalker, Chalcosyrphus curvaria, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The orange color on the legs of this yellow-haltered leafwalker really stand out, but the grasshopper-like hind legs are also a clue to this fly’s identity.
Photographed and identified to order by: Joan Lovell. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Green Mountain National Forest, Searsburg, Vermont, USA. Date: 27 June, 2022.
Thick-Legged Hover Flies (Syritta pipiens)
Thick-legged hover fly, mating pair, Syritta pipiens, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Note the difference in the eyes between the male (rear) and female thick-legged hover fly. Additional photos of this species follow.
Photographed and identified to family by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 22 September, 2018.
Thick-Legged Hover Fly (Syritta pipiens)
Thick-legged hover fly, Syritta pipiens, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The thick-legged hover fly is tiny (around 10 mm, or 0.4 inches, long) with a thin body and a relatively large femur (thigh) on each hind leg. This species also has a very small spine on each hind leg (shown in the middle photo), which helps to verify the identification of this species.
Photographed and identified to family by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size images here, here and here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 22 September, 2018.
Thick-Legged Hover Fly (Syritta pipiens)
Thick-legged hover fly, Syritta pipiens, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The thick-legged hover fly hails from Europe, where this one was photographed, but this species is now also commonly found in both North America and Asia.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Bleheut. Nicely done, Eric! Location: Lille, France. Date: 8 June, 2023.
Wasp-mimic hover fly (Cerioidini)
A wasp-mimic hover fly in the tribe Cerioidini, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This colorful wasp-mimic hover fly has antennae antennae sprouting from a stalk that extends from the head. That stalk is called an antennifer and it is well-pronounced in species within this tribe (Cerioidini) of hover flies.
Photographed by: Diganta Rabha. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Goalpara district, Assam, India. Date: 19 June, 2021.
Bee-like hover fly, (Mallota spp.)
A bee-like hover fly in the genus Mallota, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
Bee-like hover flies in the genus Mallota have beefier hind femurs (femora) than is typical for flies in this family, but it is not the only group to have this feature. One example is the well-named thick-legged fly, shown elsewhere on this page.
Photographed and identified to subfamily by: Robert E. Carpenter. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Robert’s slow-motion nature video here. Location: South Fork, Colorado, USA. Date: 18 July, 2022.
Try the key!
Hover Fly (Copestylum marginatum)
Copestylum marginatum (no specific common name), subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
Copestylum marginatum has a white slash on each side of its thorax and two smaller white ovals between the slashes. It abdomen is banded.
Photographed and identified to family by: Wayne Center. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Riverside, California. Date February 24,2020. Date: 24 February, 2020.
Wayne spotted this fly “nectaring from a wild marigold in my garden.”
Mexican Cactus Fly (Copestylum mexicanum)
A hover fly in the genus Copestylum, female, either a Mexican cactus fly, Copestylum mexicanum, or a purple bromeliad fly, Copestylum violaceum, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This could be either a Mexican cactus fly or a purple bromeliad fly, which both have half-black, half-clear wings, and which both occur in the southwestern United States where this photo was taken.
□ One way to tell them apart is to look through a microscope at the fine fuzz covering the calypters (the small wing flaps at the base of the wings). According to BugGuide, each calypter in purple bromeliad flies has a fuzz-free section on its outer edge. This left photo appears to meet that criteria, but it could be a play of the light, so it could still be either one.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 28 September, 2018.
Thomas says the flowers are about 10 mm (0.2 inches) in diameter, which makes the fly about 20 mm (about 0.4 inches) long.
Hoverfly (Lejops spp.)
A hover fly in the genus Lejops, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This hover fly has bold stripes on its thorax, and three pairs of curved bands on its abdomen.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Markey Township, Houghton Lake, Michigan. Date: 7 July, 2017.
Carolinian Elegant (Meromacrus acutus)
Carolinian elegant, Meromacrus acutus, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The common name Carolinian elegant most assuredly refers to its appearance and not to its diet: compost and other decomposing things. The striping gives it the look of a wasp (see comment below), which helps ward off predators.
Photographed by: Crystal Keller. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Antonio, Texas, Michigan. Date: 27 May, 2022.
Crystal says, “I kinda stepped on it because my husband is allergic to wasps and bees.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Since this fly’s mimics those insects, that is a completely understandable reaction!”
Narcissus bulb fly (Merodon equestris)
Narcissus bulb fly, female, Merodon equestris, subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
Narcissus bulb flies get their name from their larvae/maggots, which feed on the bulbs of daffodils and other plants in the genus Narcissus.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Nice job on the identification, Eric! Location: Lille, France. Date: 5 June, 2023.
Wasp-Mimicking Hover Fly (Mesembrius bengalensis)
Mesembrius bengalensis (no specific common name), subfamily Eristalinae, family Syrphidae.
□ A bright yellow to orange fly, Mesembrius bengalensis has parallel black stripes on its thorax, a patterned abdomen, and smoky wings. This and many other yellow/orange hover flies with black stripes and bands are often collectively called wasp-mimicking hover flies. They are commonly seen visiting flowers.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Bleheut. Great ID, Eric! Location: Bang Krang, Nonthaburi, Thailand. Date: 2024.
Hover Fly (Meligramma cincta)
Meligramma cincta (no specific common name), subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Entomologists are debating how to name this species. Should it be Meligramma cincta or should it be in its own genus with the name of Fagisyrphus cinctus? Until it is sorted out, KnowYourInsects.org is leaving it as Meligramma cincta.
Photographed and identified by: Yvonne Ugarte. Yvonne unsure of her identification, but she was right! Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK. Date: 17 October, 2016.
Hover Fly (Syrphus torvus)
Syrphus torvus (no specific common name), subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The golden fuzz (pubescence) on the thorax of this Syrphus torvus is noticeable almost as a halo effect in these fine photographs. The photographer noted that the one on the left is a male and the one on the right female. To tell the difference in this and many other species of flies, look closely at the eyes. Females have a space between the eyes, while the eyes of males touch one another.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 8 April, 2017.
Hover fly (Syrphus torvus)
Syrphus torvus (no specific common name), subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The photographer spotted this Syrphus torvus in a deck planter, resting on prickly sow thistle. Note: Prickly sow thistle (Sonchus asper) has a yellow dandelion-like flower and spiny leaves.
Photographed and identified by: Robert Uram. Nicely done on the ID, Robert! Location: Russian Hill San Francisco, California, USA. Date: 13 April, 2018.
Common Flower Fly (Syrphus ribesii)
A hover fly in the genus Syrphus, possibly a commonflower fly, Syrphus ribesii, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The common flower fly is a garden friend as both an adult and a larva. The adults are pollinators, and the larvae/maggots feed on aphids.
Photographed by: Mike Trier. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, England, UK. Date: 18 April, 2021.
Hoverfly (Syrphus spp.)
A hover fly in the genus Syrphus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae (the flower and hover flies).
□ The photographer posits that this may be either the species Syrphus ribesii or Syrphus vitripennis. Hover fly specialist Jeff Skevington of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada took a look, but could not positively identify it beyond the genus.
Photographed and identified as the genus Syrphus by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Location: Ivybridge, South Hams, South Devon, UK. Date: 1 September, 2017.
Hover Fly (Toxomerus politus)
Corn-feeding syrphid fly, Toxomerus politus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The gorgeous corn-feeding syrphid fly gets its common name because it eats corn pollen and is a member of the scientific family Syrphidae. It is usually only known by its scientific name of Toxomerus politus. They can be very numerous (see the comment below).
Photographed by: Jessica Miller. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Waggoner, Illinois, USA. Date: 10 August, 2019.
Jessica says, “These swarm my mom’s new deck: anywhere from 15-50 all day long.”
Marginated Calligrapher Fly (Toxomerus marginatus)
Marginated calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The margined calligrapher is a very widespread species in the United States, where this photograph was taken. Its range also extends as far south as Central America, and north into Canada.
Photographed and identified by: Denise Rulason. Location: Mayville, Michigan, USA. Date: 3 July, 2020.
Marginated calligrapher (Toxomerus marginatus)
Marginated calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The abdomen on the marginated calligrapher looks as if it was indeed drawn by a calligrapher! Note also that this photo actually shows a mating pair with the male on top of the female.
Photographed and identified by: Eugene Quail. Well done on the ID, Eugene! Location: Section 6, Nottawa Township, Isabella County, Michigan, USA. Date: 16 July, 2015.
Hover Fly (Toxomerus marginatus)
Margined calligrapher, Toxomerus marginatus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The marginated calligrapher is quite similar to the eastern calligrapher (Toxomerus geminatus), but the latter has a more angular pattern on its abdomen. To see the eastern calligrapher, click here (BugGuide). Their distributions are different, too. The eastern calligrapher ranges from the eastern United States into southern Canada, while the marginated calligrapher extends from Canada all the way to Central America.
□ According to Bugguide.net, if the maggots of the margined calligrapher develop under warmer temperatures, the color of the adults is more of a pale orange. If the maggots develop under cooler temperatures, the adults are darker orange.
Photographed and identified to genus by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 12 September, 2022.
Thomas says, “Another ‘never saw one of these before.’ Only got a chance to take four quick images, then it took off heading east!”
Common Oblique Syrphid (Allograpta obliqua)
Common oblique syrphid, Allograpta obliqua, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The common oblique syrphid is yet another hover fly with a gorgeously patterned abdomen.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. Nicely done on the ID, Thomas! See Thomas’ full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 December, 2016.
Common Oblique Syrphid (Allograpta obliqua)
Common oblique syrphid, Allograpta obliqua, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Take a close look to see the mouthparts (the “tongue”) on this common oblique syrphid, a good design for taking up nectar or the sugary substance (called honeydew) that aphids excrete.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’ full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 18 December, 2016.
 Oblique Streaktail (Allograpta obliqua)
Common oblique syrphid, Allograpta obliqua, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The common oblique syrphid fly is sometimes called a oblique streaktail.
Photographed by: Nora Schwab. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fair Oaks, California, USA. Date: 3 July, 2023.
Nora saw it near a hot pepper plant, and says “It flew quite fast, and would stop mid-air, and hover near the leaves.... I figured that maybe the bee was so zippy because it was associating with the hot pepper! 😉”
Syrphid (Allograpta exotica)
Exotic streaktail, Allograpta exotica, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This species, sometimes known as an exotic streaktail is very similar in appearance and closely related to the common oblique syrphid fly (shown elsewhere on this page), but a small section on the side of its thorax called a katepisternum is black instead of yellow, and it has a black stripe down the center of its face. For a nice comparison of the two, click here (BugGuide).
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’ full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 20 August, 2022.
Blotched-Wing Hover Fly (Leucozona lucorum)
Blotched-wing hover fly, Leucozona lucorum, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This handsome blotched-wing hover fly has many features in common with the pellucid fly pictured elsewhere on this page, but is distinguished by the orange scutellum (that little half-moon-shaped section in just about the middle of its back), a slightly different pattern of veins on its wings, and orange-red hairs covering its thorax.
Photographed and identified to family by: Andrew Warr. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ripple Lakes, Worcestershire, UK. Date: 30 April, 2022.
Pale-Saddled Hover Fly (Leucozona glaucia)
Pale-saddled hover fly, Leucozona glaucia, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The small yellow area in the middle of its back ((an area called the scutellum) gives this pale-saddled hover fly its name. The light-bluish tint on the abdominal bands and overall reddish background of the wings and thorax also help to identify this colorful little fly.
Photographed and identified to family by: Jacqueline Wild. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Cot Valley, south of St Just, Cornwall, UK. Date: 24 August, 2022.
Jacqueline says, “I thought the blue markings were really pretty.”
Black-Banded Hover Fly (Asarkina spp.)
Black-banded hover fly, male, in the genus Asarkina, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This black-banded hover fly could be either the species Asarkina salviae or Asarkina porcina, which are both found in Thailand, where this photo was taken, and share the same features: thin, black, abdominal bands and a large, black, thoracic spot.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Nice identification, Eric! Location: Bang Krang, Nonthaburi, Thailand. Date: 22 November, 2023.
Syrphid Fly/Hoverfly (Platycheirus trichopus)
A syrphid fly, female, in the genus Platycheirus, likely a western forest sedgesitter, Platycheirus trichopus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The photographer wisely sent this photo of a syrphid fly to bugguide.net., which does a marvelous job of identifying the insects of North America. Bugguide identified this as a member of the genus Platycheirus, likely the species Platycheirus trichopus, which often goes by the common name of western forest sedgesitter.
Photographed and identified to family by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 6 January, 2020.
Thomas says he captured this photo while the fly was on a plant called pink breath of heaven (Coleonema pulchellum), which has petals 5 mm (0.2 inches) long.
Yellow-Shouldered Stout Hover Fly (Simosyrphus grandicornis)
Yellow-shouldered stout hover fly, Simosyrphus grandicornis, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This hover fly is hovering — how appropriate! Based in part on the yellow stripe on either side of the thoras, it appears to be a yellow-shouldered stout hover fly.
Photographed by: Ajay Antony. Identified tentatively by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tamilnadu, India. Date: 13 May, 2017.
White-bowed smoothwing, Scaeva affinis
White-bowed smoothwing, Scaeva affinis, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The white-bowed smoothwing was once considered to be the same species as the pied hover fly (Scaeva pyrastri), but it was recently given its own species status. The pied hover fly is now considered to be a species of Eurasia and northern Africa, whereas the white-bowed smoothwing, which is found in North America, is now listed under the scientific name of Scaeva affinis.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 8 April, 2017.
Scaeva affinis
White-bowed smoothwing, Scaeva affinis, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This white-bowed smoothwing was captured in flight in this photo. This species is particularly common in the western United States, where this photo was taken.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See his full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 April, 2017.
Pied Hover Fly (Pterophoridae)
White-bowed smoothwing, Scaeva affinis, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The short hairs on the eyes and face are easily seen in this photo of a white-bowed smoothwing. The hairy eyes are a characteristic of this species. Click on the photo to zoom in and get an even better view.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas's full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 29 April, 2023.
Pied Hoverfly (Scaeva pyrastri)
Pied hover fly, Scaeva pyrastri, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The pied hover fly is one of a number of hover flies that have a similar comma-shaped pattern on the abdomen. Until recently this species was believed to have populations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Now, however, entomologists have determined that those populations on the western side of the Atlantic are actually a different species, which has been named a white-bowed smoothwing (Scaeva affinis).
Photographed by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Identified by: Jeff Skevington, Ph.D., a syrphid specialist from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Thank you, Dr. Skevington! Location: Ivybridge, South Devon, UK. Date: 26 August, 2017.
Pied Hover fly (Scaeva pyrastri)
A hover fly, likely a pied hover fly, Scaeva pyrastri, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This hover fly is on a bladder campion plant (Silene vulgaris).
Photographed and identified by: Robert Uram. Location: Junfrau region near Wengen, Switzerland. Date: 13 July, 2010.
Hover Fly (Paragus spp.)
Black-backed grass skimmer, Paragus haemorrhous, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This black-backed grass skimmer has a red abdomen, but other individuals in this species have a much darker red or all-black abdomen instead. According to Bugguide, their larvae (the maggots) are carnivorous and will eat aphids.
□ The black-backed grass skimmer is often simply described as a species of hover fly or a syrphid fly (after its scientific family name Syrphidae).
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 18 April, 2017, and 9 December, 2016.
Hover Fly (Paragus spp.)
Black-backed grass skimmer, Paragus haemorrhous, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The photographer notes that the red on this black-backed grass skimmer reaches all the way to the back end of the abdomen.
□ Note: Some sources believe this species should actually be split into more than one species.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 28 September, 2018.
Insect facts
□ All insects have scientific names, which are used worldwide (regardless of language) and are usually based on Latin or Greek words. Some insects also have everyday or common names that most non-scientists use for insects, but common names for the same species can differ from one region to the next.
Hover Fly (Eupeodes volucris)
Bird hover fly, Eupeodes volucris, female, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The bird hover fly is also sometimes known as a large-tailed aphideater. The latter is a good description of the diet of its larvae/maggots, but how this fly got its “bird” name is unknown.
Photographed by: Bill Flor. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Los Alamos County (7,500 ft. elevation), New Mexico, USA. Date: 22 March, 2015.
Bill says he took this photo of the bee on an early-spring flowering tree (two months before official frost-free date).
Hover Fly (Eupeodes volucris)
Bird hover fly, female, Eupeodes volucris, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ In the bird hover fly, the white curved bars on the abdomen are in pairs and do not meet in the center. The female differs from the male in that she has an obvious white gap between her eyes (the eyes do not touch).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 April, 2017.
Migrant Hover Fly (Eupeodes corollae)
Migrant hover fly, female, Eupeodes corollae, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The migrant hover fly has six large yellow markings on its abdomen — the markings are a bit narrower in the female (seen here). The tip of the abdomen is also decorated with thin yellow bands, as seen nicely in the extended abdomen of this female.
Photographed and identified to family by: Eric Eddles. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Baffins Pond, Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK. Date: 28 June, 2022.
Eric says, “The past few days have been so good for insects at Baffins pond with beautiful damselflies, harlequin ladybirds, common froghoppers and nettle ground bugs mating.”
Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)
Marmalade hover fly Episyrphus balteatus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
Marmalade hover flies are beneficial three ways. First, the larvae/maggots eat aphids, which can become pests in a garden. Second, they pollinate many plants. Third, they are a delight to see with that distinctive banding.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Location: Ivybridge, South Hams, South Devon, UK. Date: 1 September, 2017.
Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus)
Marmalade hover fly Episyrphus balteatus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ One of the features of the marmalade hover fly is the pair of markings on its abdomen that look like drawings of thin mustaches. It also has an orange color rather like that of marmalade.
Photographed by: Mike Trier. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, UK. Date: 3 June, 2021.
Hover Fly (Episyrphus spp.)
A hover fly in the genus Episyrphus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
Hover flies in the genus (Episyrphus) often have intricate banding patterns on the abdomen, as seen here.
Photographed and identified as a hover fly by: Anmol Singh. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Uttar Pradesh, India. Date: 18 March, 2021.
Click the photo to enlarge it
Forked globetail (Sphaerophoria sulphuripes)
Forked globetail, male, Sphaerophoria sulphuripes, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This male forked globetail has a quite tubular-looking abdomen that changes from black to brown to yellow from the front to the rear. This male also has a broken dark stripe running down the middle of the rear half of the abdomen. See the female elsewhere on this page.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 21 August, 2022.
Thomas says, “On a tomato plant flower. Never seen one like this before, quite a surprise.”
Forked globetail (Sphaerophoria sulphuripes)
Forked globetail, female, Sphaerophoria sulphuripes, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The female forked globetail has an abdomen that widens in the center, unlike the male’s, which is thinner all the way down. This female has three, broad and continuous abdominal bands and two pale stripes on her thorax, but others may have broken abdominal bands and lack the thoracic striping.
Photographed and identified to family by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 20 June, 2023.
Thomas says it was only about 8 mm (0.3 inches) long.
Forked globetail (Sphaerophoria sulphuripes)
Forked globetail, Sphaerophoria sulphuripes, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This forked globetail shows yet more abdominal variety among individuals this species. The rear abdominal segments have have yellow and brown patterns of broken bands and geometric shapes. This one shows no thoracic striping, but others with this abdominal patterning may. To see the variation, (click here (BugGuide).
Photographed and identified to family by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’s full-size image here. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 20 June, 2023.
Hover Fly (Sphaerophoria spp.)
A hover fly in the genus Sphaerophoria, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ The pattern on the abdomen and thorax are slightly different among species in this genus (Sphaerophoria) of hover flies. Note the rearward curvature of the first, second and third dark bands.
Photographed by: Denise Rulz. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Mayville, Michigan, USA. Date: 16 June, 2017.
Gossamer Hover Fly (Baccha elongata)
Gossamer hover fly, male, Baccha elongata, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Under the right lighting, the gossamer hover fly’s clear wings have a copper metallic sheen, as seen here. The standout feature of this species, however, is the thin but bulbous-tipped abdomen. In this shot, the thin section of the abdomen is just visible through the wings, and the bulbous tip extends beyond the wingtips.
□ This species sometimes goes by the alternate name of common dainty.
Photographed by: Mike Trier. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, England, UK. Date: 25 April, 2021.
Hover Fly (Pelecinobaccha costata)
Cobalt hover fly, Pelecinobaccha costata, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ With its shiny silver color, the black markings on the top of the abdomen and white triangles on the side, and the dark-brown shadow on the wings, this cobalt hover fly is a mirrored jewel.
Photographed and identified to order by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 17 April, 2020.
Hover Fly (Ocyptamus fascipennis)
Hypocritanus fascipennis (no specific common name), male, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
Hypocritanus fascipennis has a wide band through the center of each wing. In fact, its Latin name of fascipennis translates to banded wing. This species was formerly listed as a member of the genus Ocyptamus. For more on the reclassification, click here (the journal Zootaxa).
Photographed and identified to order by: Robert E. Carpenter. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Robert’s slow-motion insect videos here. Location: Guadalupe River, Kerrville, Texas, USA. Date: 16 June, 2017.
Rob says, “I love this little fly. Isn’t he pretty?”
Insect facts
□ If a fly were to watch a movie, it would actually see it as a fast slide show! To find out why, click here (Florida International University webpage).
Hover Fly (Ischiodon scutellaris)
Ischiodon scutellaris (no specific common name), subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
Ischiodon scutellaris is a flower pollinator as an adult, and an aphid-feeder as a larva/maggot, so it provides two important ecosystem services.
□ This photo was taken in Nepal at the elevation of 1500m (nearly 5,000 feet). See the photographer’s comment below to learn about her blogspot that focuses on some of the insects of Nepal.
Photographed and identified to family by: Karen Conniff. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Kathmandu, Nepal. Date: 17 April, 2020.
Karen says, “I have been living in Nepal for 8 years. I record and study odonates.” See her wonderful collection of odonates (dragonflies and damselflies) at odonatanepal.blogspot.com.
Hover fly (Ischiodon scutellaris)
Ischiodon scutellaris (no specific common name), subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ Characteristic features of Ischiodon scutellaris include a pair of lateral yellow stripes on the thorax, a banded abdomen that changes from dark brown to a lighter reddish color toward the rear, and a yellow scutellum (the half-circle segment behind the thorax) with a brown smudge in the center. The size of the smudge differs from individual to individual.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blauhaut. Nicely done, Eric! Location: Mueang Nonthaburi, Thailand. Date: 18 March, 2023.
Hover Fly (Epistrophe spp.)
A hover fly in the genus Epistrophe, female, possibly Epistrophe grossulariae (no specific common name), subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
Epistrophe grossulariae has wide, dark bands on its abdomen, and is sometimes known as a broad-banded epistrophe for that reason.
Photographed by: Martin Barnes. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: South of England in Dover, UK. Date: 5 July, 2019.
Hoverfly (Megasyrphus laxus)
Black-legged gossamer, Megasyrphus laxus, subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
□ This black-legged gossamer has lovely pearly-blue markings on its abdomen. Depending on the light, however, the markings may take on a golden hue.
Photographed and identified to family by: Joan Lovell. Location: Searsburg, Vermont, USA. Date: 31 July, 2020.
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Hover Fly (Syrphinae)
A hover fly in the subfamily Syrphinae, family Syrphidae.
Hover flies in this subfamily (Syrphinae) have a typical wing venation (vein pattern), including the characteristic spurious vein, which is highlighted in yellow in this photograph. Zoom in by clicking on the photo.
Photographed and identified as a hover fly by: Anmol Singh. Location: Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. Date: 10 March, 2021.
Rat-tailed maggots (Syrphidae)
Rat-tailed maggots, the larvae of certain flies in the family Syrphidae.
Rat-tailed maggots may not have the most glamorous common name, but it is appropriate! The “tail” is actually a breathing siphon, so the maggot can breathe while staying submerged. In other words, the tube acts like a snorkel. By remaining underwater, the maggot is afforded some protection against flying predators.
Photographed by: S. F. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Alberta, Canada. Date: 28 July, 2016.
S. F. says, “My husband is trying to build a pond using an old bath tub. Today I found these nasty creatures swimming in it.... My kids — both boys — think it’s gross but so neat. LOL!”
Rat-tailed maggots (Syrphidae)
Rat-tailed maggots, the larvae of certain flies in the family Syrphidae.
□ This is an excellent close-up of a rat-tailed maggot and shows its long breathing tube attached. Depending on the species, tube may extend to twice the length of the maggot’s body. See the photographer’s description below.
Photographed by: Helen Booth. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Victoria, Australia. Date: 21 December, 2020.
Helen says, “The largest maggot we have seen is 25mm in body length, 5 mm wide, 7 mm tail.” That is a body 1 inch long and 0.2 inches wide, and with a nearly 0.3-inch-long tube.

Pallopteridae, the flutter flies

Flutter fly (Toxonevra superba)
Antlered flutter fly, Toxonevra superba, subfamily Pallopterinae, family Pallopteridae.
□ The common name of antlered flutter flyrefers to the dark markings on its wings, which rather resemble giant antlers (look at the photo sideways and use your imagination!). Many thanks to the photographer for snapping these photos of this unusual fly.
Photographed by: Karen. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Date: 5 September, 2018.
Karen found this flutter fly in her kitchen.
Flutter fly (Toxonevra superba)
Antlered flutter fly, Toxonevra superba, subfamily Pallopterinae, family Pallopteridae.
□ This antlered flutter fly is one of a small family of flies that only has 70 known species in the world.
□ Note the interesting shape of its abdomen.
Photographed by: Neil Marsh. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, Canada. Date: 19 July, 2020.
Neil says, “It resembles a deer fly, but is quite small, about 5 mm (0.2 inches) long.”
Antlered flutter fly (Toxonevra superba)
Antlered flutter fly, Toxonevra superba, subfamily Pallopterinae, family Pallopteridae.
Antlered flutter flies live in many areas geographically, but sightings are rare. Little is known about the biology or behavior of this species.
Photographed by: Monica Bernard. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Date: 26 June, 2021.
Flutter fly (Toxonevra muliebris)
Toxonevra muliebris (no specific common name), subfamily Pallopterinae, family Pallopteridae.
Toxonevra muliebris has a distinctive clear wings with an outline that looks like a bumped-in oval. Note: This species is sometimes listed as Palloptera muliebris instead.
Photographed by: Ryan Gray. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, England, UK. Date: 22 August, 2018.
Flutter fly (Toxonevra muliebris)
Toxonevra muliebris (no specific common name), subfamily Pallopterinae, family Pallopteridae.
Toxonevra muliebris will often sit with its wings outstretched, and also slanted forward at bit. Its red eyes are just visible in the photo at right.
Photographed and identified by: Chris. Well done on the ID, Chris! Location: Bexhill-on-Sea, East Sussex, England, UK. Date: 9 July, 2019.
Chris says, “It was on the side of my fridge in the south of England today. Never seen one like it before — great wings!”
Flutter fly (Toxonevra muliebris)
Toxonevra muliebris (no specific common name), subfamily Pallopterinae, family Pallopteridae.
Toxonevra muliebris is originally from Europe and Asia — this one was photographed in England — and as of 2016 is also now found in North America.
Photographed and identified as a flutter fly by: Chloe Knott. Nicely done, Chloe! Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: South Leicestershire in England. Date: 14 Spetember, 2023.
Chloe says, “I found an unusual little fly in my kitchen today. It was really sweet so I took a few photos.”
Flutter fly (Palloptera claripennis)
Palloptera claripennis (no specific common name), female, subfamily Pallopterinae, family Pallopteridae.
□ This female Palloptera claripennis is a female, as noted by the black “stinger”, which is actually an ovipositor (an egg-laying structure). See the photographer's comment below. Females of this species have been known to lay their eggs in the larvae of midges, and once the eggs hatch, the maggots eat the midge larvae. The adults typically hang out on flowers, or tree and shrub branches.
Photographed by: Sarah. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: northern California. Date: 7 November, 2019.
Sarah says, “This little one was found by my daughter just lumbering around the bathroom. But it’s got what looks like a ‘stinger’ or very similar to what mantids have on their ends.” The “stinger” is actually an ovipositor, so it’s a female.
Insect facts
□ Flutter flies (in the family Pallopteridae) are sometimes called trembling wing flies or waving wing flies, because of the way they quickly flit and flutter their wings.

Ulidiidae, the picture-winged flies

Picture-Winged Fly (Tritoxa incurva)
Tritoxa incurva (no specific common name), subfamily Otitinae, family Ulidiidae.
Tritoxa incurva is one of the picture-winged flies. It has a long snout and striped wings. This little fly only grows to about 7-8 mm (0.3 inches) long.
Photographed by: Thomas Earnest. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Alabama, USA. Date: 28 June, 2020.
Picture-Winged Fly (Idana marginata)
Idana marginata (no specific common name), subfamily Otitinae, family Ulidiidae.
Idana marginata not only has the transparent and dark sections in its wings typical of the picture-winged fly family, but also possesses perpendicular striping: vertical on the thorax and horizontal on its abdomen. It also has an interesting silhouette to its abdomen.
Photographed by: Bridgette Hoover. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pearisburg, Virginia, USA. Date: 12 July, 2020.
Bridgette says, “It would raise and lower its wings.”
Click the photo to enlarge it
Picture-Winged Fly (Delphinia picta)
Delphinia picta (no specific common name), subfamily Otitinae, family Ulidiidae.
□ Scientific family names occasionally change. Delphinia picta was once in a family called Otitidae, but Otitidae was demoted to subfamily status and is now a part of the family Ulidiidae.
Photographed and identified to order by: Bill P. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Belmont County, Ohio, USA. Date: 22 August, 2018.
Picture-Winged Fly (Delphinia picta)
Delphinia picta (no specific common name), subfamily Otitinae, family Ulidiidae.
Delphinia picta and other species in this family get their name from their wing patterns, which look almost like stained glass or a paint-by-numbers picture. The genus Delphinia is monospecific, which means that it has only one species and Delphinia picta is it. □ Note the elongated snout on this fly. It looks something like one of the aliens in the original Star Wars movie — the alien called a Garindan! For more information on this fly, click here (University of Florida “Featured Creatures” website).
Photographed by: Karen Dickelman. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Canton, Michigan, USA. Date: 17 June, 2019.
Picture-Winged Fly (Delphinia picta)
Delphinia picta (no specific common name), subfamily Otitinae, family Ulidiidae.
Delphinia picta looks almost like a fruit fly (family Tephritidae), but unlike fruit flies that love to dine on ripe fruit, this species of picture-winged fly instead prefers well-rotted fruit, such as plums that are decaying on the ground under a tree. Photographed and identified to order by: Jerry Conrad. Location: Plymouth, Minnesota, USA. Date: 5 September, 2018.
KnowYourInsects.org says, “Nice job on the identification, Jerry!”
Picture-Winged Fly (Delphinia picta)
Picture-winged fly, possibly Delphinia picta (no specific common name), subfamily Otitinae, family Ulidiidae.
□ This photo provides a nice size comparison between a picture-winged fly (left) and a honey bee. See the photographer’s comment below.
Photographed by: Thom Stephens. Location: metropolitan Detroit, Michigan, USA. Date: 7 June, 2021.
Thom says, “I have many of these in my backyard. I have them on my flowers, and around my honey bee hive.”
Peacock Fly (Callopistromyia annulipes)
Peacock fly, Callopistromyia annulipes, subfamily Otitinae, family Ulidiidae.
□ The photographer was barely able to grab this shot of a peacock fly just before it took off. This tiny fly holds its wings up with the inner edges touching so the the wings together look like a fan or a peacock’s tail. To see a video of a peacock fly showing off this behavior, click here (Youtube video).
Photographed by: Brianna Knight. Location: Mount Pleasant, Michigan, USA. Date: 4 September, 2023.
Brianna says, “What a cool little dude!” ”

Pyrgotidae, the pyrgotid flies
Platystomatidae, the signal flies

Waved Light Fly (Sepsidae)
Waved light fly, Pyrgota undata, family Pyrgotidae.
□ The waved light fly has a very distinctive wing pattern, as seen here. This is a nocturnal fly, the females of which lay their eggs inside Junebugs, May beetles, and other scarab beetles in the genus Phyllophaga. The eggs hatch and larvae develop inside, eventually killing the beetle. The flies finally exit the beetles as adults, and fly off.
Photographed and identified to the Tephritoidea superfamily of flies (the fruit flies, picture-winged flies and others) by: Carrie Perri. Nicely done, Carrie! Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ozark, Missouri, USA. Date: 22 May, 2022.
Carrie spotted this lovely fly on the way to work.
Try the key! Sepsid fly (Sepsidae)
A signal fly in the genus Rivellia, family Platystomatidae.
Signal flies get that name from their typical behavior of flitting their wings — often patterned, like this one — as if they are signaling someone. To see a top view of a fly in this genus (Rivellia), click here (BugGuide). It is often confused with other flies that have intricate wing patterns, including Ulidiidae and Tephritidae (both on this page), but the differing arrangement of the wing veins sets the three families apart.
Photographed by: Raven Meindel. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Lima Township, Dexter, Michigan, USA. Date: 27 June, 2016.
Signal Fly (Rivellia spp.)
A signal fly in the genus Rivellia, family Platystomatidae.
Signal flies in the genus Rivellia are known to feed on the root nodules of various legumes (bean plants). The root nodules, which usually look like small beads attached to the roots, are home to nitrogen-fixing bacteria that convert nitrogen in the air into a form of nitrogen that the plants can use.
Photographed and identified to order by: Cheryl Ellis. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Howell, Michigan, USA. Date: July, 2019.

Tephritidae, the fruit flies

Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis)
Oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, subfamily Dacinae, family Tephritidae.
□ The oriental fruit fly is very common in its native southern Asia, has become established in much of Africa, and often finds its way to other countries. It is a major pest, so the countries put in great efforts to keep it at bay. For more information about this pest, click here (the University of Florida Entomology & Nematology website).
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Nicely done, Eric! Location: Bang Krang, Nonthaburi, Thailand. Date: 3 February, 2021.
Oriental fruit fly (Bactrocera dorsalis)
Oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, subfamily Dacinae, family Tephritidae.
□ Typical Oriental fruit flieshave only two stripes on its thorax, but this one has an extra central stripe. The three-striped pattern is a less common variation for this species.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Nicely done, Eric! Location: Bang Krang, Thailand. Date: 27 February, 2023.
Oriental Fruit Fly (Bactrocera dorsalis)
Oriental fruit fly, Bactrocera dorsalis, subfamily Dacinae, family Tephritidae.
□ The Oriental fruit fly takes a short time to develop: Only 16 days need to pass before an egg develops through the larval and pupal stages to become an adult that is ready to reproduce itself.
Photographed by: Sarah Park. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Central African Republic. Date: 13 April, 2018.
Sarah says, “My brain says ‘fly’; my soul says ‘BEE! (GET IT OFF! GET IT OFF!).’ ”
Insect facts
□ Female oriental fruit flies will lay their eggs in a very wide range of fruits. Each egg hatches into a larva, which eats the fruit, and eventually drops out to continue its development into a pupa and then an adult.
Melon Fly (Bactrocera cucurbitae)
Melon fly, Bactrocera cucurbitae, subfamily Dacinae, family Tephritidae.
□ The melon fly is originally from India, but is now widespread throughout much of Southeast Asia, according to University of Florida Entomology “Featured Creatures” website. It arrived in Hawaii (where this photo was taken) more than a century ago, and is a pest of not only melons, but also a range of other crop plants, including beans, cucumbers, peppers and tomatoes.
Photographed by: Christian Moratin. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Kapolei, Hawaii, USA. Date: 18 May, 2018.
True Fruit Fly (Trupanea nigricornis)
Trupanea nigricornis (no specific common name), subfamily Tephritinae, family Tephritidae.
True fruit flies, such as Trupanea nigricornis, have quite exquisite wings. Most flies in this family also have green eyes. The photographer described this fly as 0.5 inches (1.2 cm) long.
Photographed by: Nora Schwab. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Fair Oaks, California, USA. Date: 22 August, 2018.
Nora says, “There are two of these tiny flies on my hot lemon pepper plant.... The flies seemed to be demonstrating to each other by lifting first one wing then the other.”
Gall Fly (Chaetorellia jaceae)
Chaetorellia jaceae (no specific common name), subfamily Tephritinae, family Tephritidae.
□ This tiny adult gall fly, the species Chaetorellia jaceae, has wings with lovely striping that look almost as if they were painted with watercolors.
□ The larvae of this species (Chaetostomella jaceae) are known to feed on common knapweed (Centaurea nigra).
Photographed and identified to order by: Wayne Fennell. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Identified to species by: an unidentified dipterist (fly expert). Location: Piegut-Pluvers, France. Date: 29 August, 2018.
Wayne describes this as a “very small fly.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Great photo, Wayne!”
Fruit Fly (Tephritinae)
Fruit fly, tribe Tephritini, subfamily Tephritinae, family Tephritidae.
□ This fruit fly was photographed in California, which is home to several species with mottled wings. This appears to be a member of the tribe Tephritini.
Photographed and identified to order by: Thomas Langhans. Identified to subfamily by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’s full-size image (on a flower to the right of a much larger butterfly) here. Location: South San Francisco, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 24 November, 2017.
Fruit Fly (Sphaeniscus quadrincisus)
Sphaeniscus quadrincisus (no specific common name), subfamily Tephritinae, family Tephritidae.
□ One of the species of fruit flies, Sphaeniscus quadrincisus has bold dark bands on its wings with three hyaline areas on the hind area of each wing. “Hyaline” refers to the clear areas showing between the black bands. In this photo, the fly is holding its wing with the hind area forward, and the hyaline areas are the three, clear triangles on each wing.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Nicely done, Eric! Location: Bang Krang, Thailand. Date: 4 October, 2023.
Walnut husk fly (Rhagoletis completa)
Walnut husk fly, Rhagoletis completa, subfamily Trypetinae, family Tephritidae.
□ The walnut husk fly has three stripes on each forewing, the last one curled down along the side of the wing. Although it is a member of the fruit fly family, it is similar in size to a house fly, which is in a different family (Muscidae). To see the KnowYourInsects section on Muscidae, click here.
Photographed by: Catherine Dyer. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: near Veterans Park, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Date: 9 July, 2018.
Catherine says, “I was on a blanket under our walnut tree when I found it.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “The perfect location for a walnut husk fly!”
Bur-Seed Fly (Euaresta aequalis)
Bur-seed fly, Euaresta aequalis, subfamily Trypetinae, family Tephritidae.
□ The bur-seed fly gets its name because its larvae feed on and destroy the prickly-looking seeds — called burs — of the cocklebur plant (Xanthium strumarium). Because cocklebur seeds and seedlings are toxic to various livestock animals, including cattle, pigs and horses, ranchers welcome bur-seed flies to their property. See the photographer’s description below.
Photographed by: Peter Kalab. Photo submitted by: Pat Kalab. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: near the Ottawa River, Ottawa, Canada. Date: 11 August, 2018.
Peter says, “The eyes were a very striking green. The wings were very interesting as they are patterned like a butterfly’s wings.”
Celery Fly (Euleia heraclei)
Celery fly, Euleia heraclei, subfamily Trypetinae, family Tephritidae.
□ The celery fly gets its name from its larvae, which tunnel into and cause damage to celery leaves. The beautiful-winged adults are often seen on hogweed leaves (in the genus Heracleum), so are also sometimes called hogweed picture-wing flies.
Photographed by: Jess F. Maslen. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Bere Peninsula, Devon, UK. Date: 29 May, 2021.
Jess says it was tiny, only 1-2 mm (0.04-0.08 inches) in body length. He found it “on a riverside walk (apparently) feeding from the surface of the leaf.”
Sunflower Maggot Fly (Strauzia longipennis)
Sunflower maggot fly, mating pair, Strauzia longipennis, subfamily Trypetinae, family Tephritidae.
Sunflower maggot flies are quite flashy-looking with their patterned wings, green eyes, yellow bodies, and spiky hairs (see the comment below). Click on the photo to zoom in and see the remarkable hairs. The larvae/maggots do snack on sunflower stems, but do not do a great deal of damage.
Photographed and identified by: Victoria Virgona. Nicely done on the ID, Victoria! Location: East Setauket, New York, USA. Date: 10 June, 2022.
Victoria says, “Those hair spikes are giving me ‘80s rocker vibes lol.”
Insect facts
□ Would you like a list of all the “true fly”/Diptera families — in one handy place? We made one for you! To see it, click here.

Tachinidae, the tachina or tachinid flies

Ladybug mimic fly (Gymnosoma spp.)
Ladybug mimic fly in the genus Gymnosoma, subfamily Phasiinae, family Tachinidae.
□ Take a look at the white flaps just behind the wings. Those are calypters, and they are a characteristic feature of certain types of flies, including the ladybug mimic flies.
Photographed and identified (with a great guess!) by: Kathy Caine. Location: Cedar City, Utah, USA. Date: 10 June, 2017.
Tachinid Fly (Cylindromyia fumipennis)
Cylindromyia fumipennis (no specific common name), subfamily Phasiinae, family Tachinidae.
□ The white markings on Cylindromyia fumipennis can become quite faint, and nearly disappear when the light strikes it slightly differently.
Photographed and identified by: Jackie Lucier. Thank you for the ID, Jackie! See the full-size image here. Location: Wheatley, Ontario, Canada. Date: 18 June, 2009.
Tachinid Fly (Cylindromyia intermedia)
Cylindromyia intermedia (no specific common name), subfamily Phasiinae, family Tachinidae.
Cylindromyia intermedia is a bristle fly that has a reddish-brown and black abdomen with thin, white bands between the abdominal segments. In some individuals, the white bands are more prominent.
Photographed by: JP Yousha. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: East side of Midland County, Texas, USA. Date: 20 October, 2021.
Tachinid Fly (Phasia spp.)
A tachinid Fly in the genus Phasia, subfamily Phasiinae, family Tachinidae.
□ This tachinid fly is a small fly, perching on a fleabane daisy (Erigeron strigosus).
Photographed by: Mike Bloodsworth. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Mike’s full-size image here. Location: Smith County, Texas, USA. Date: 26 April, 2008.
Bee-like Tachinid Fly (Hystricia abrupta)
Hystricia abrupta (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ The front half of Hystricia abrupta looks like a typical fly, but the back half is unusual: a round, orange abdomen sporting tufts of black bristles. It is sometimes called a tomato bristle fly. See the colorful description below.
Photographed by: Victoria Baeger. Submitted by: Clara Bajgar. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Northampton, Massachusetts, USA. Date: 20 July, 2020.
Victoria spotted it among the multitude of ladybugs that have come to call in her work office. Clara says, “After enlarging the photo, it looks like a coronavirus with wings.”
Bee-like Tachinid Fly (Hystricia abrupta)
Hystricia abrupta (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ The genus name of Hystricia abrupta is taken from the Latin word hystrice, which means porcupine. The bristles on this fly’s abdomen are indeed reminiscent of a porcupine’s spines. The color of the abdomen may be quite red, or more orange. See the comment below.
Photographed and identified by: Joan Lovell. Nice ID, Joan! Location: Green Mountain National Forest, Searsburg, Vermont, USA. Date: 28 August, 2020.
Joan says, “This fellow looks a lot more yellow than tomato-y. I thought maybe it was because he was backlit, but when I checked him out later, out of the sun, he still appeared to be quite yellow/orange.”
Tachinid Fly (Epalpus signifer)
Epalpus signifer (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ These photos show i>Epalpus signifer from the front and the rear. Note the distinctive marking on its hind end, which is a characteristic feature of this species. See the photographer’s description below.
Photographed and identified to family by: Sean Horton. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Whatcom County, Washington, USA. Date: 24 May, 2012.
Sean says, “I found this little guy on my kayak hull the other day when I was washing it up. He was about 1/2" (1.3 cm) long, and had bright yellow cloven feet with spiky black hair on his abdomen.”
Tachinid Fly (Archytas spp.)
Tachinid fly, Epalpus signifer, subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ The wing venation of tachinid flies in the genus Archytas often include crossveins that swoop and dip, as seen at the rear edge of the wing at the top of this photo.
Photographed and identified by: Leslie Mertz. Location: Kalkaska County, Michigan, USA. Date: 28 May, 2012.
Tachinid Fly (Archytas marmoratus)
Hefty fly, Archytas marmoratus, subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ The hefty fly has a white, concave face; brown stripe down the top of its head; black-tipped, orange antennae; a orangish/tan rump; and lots of hairs. The photographer captured all these features in these photos.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’ full-size images here and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 December, 2016.
Tachinid Fly (Archytas marmoratus)
Hefty fly, Archytas marmoratus, subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ The maggots of hefty flies are parasites, and attack the larvae and pupae of owlet moths (in the family Noctuidae). To learn more, click here(the journal Bulletin of Insectology).
Photographed and identified by: Christopher Barger. Well done on the ID, Christopher! Location: East Tennessee, USA. Date: 15 August, 2020.
Tachinid Fly (Archytas apicifer)
Archytas apicifer (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
Archytas apicifer has a shiny blue-black abdomen with a bristled end, and a non-shiny tan-colored thorax that is covered with bristles. Its wings have noticeable crossveins (sideways veins that connect the long veins).
Photographed and identified to family by: Brian Fries. Way to go, Brian! Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Southeast Minnesota, USA. Date: 27 July, 2020.
Brian says, “Identified it as a tachnid fly on your site.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “We love when that happens!”
Tachinid Fly (Archytas spp.)
A tachinid fly, possibly Archytas lateralis (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
Archytas lateralis has a partially red abdomen and lots of black bristles on its body. The bristles are common to flies in the family Tachinidae, which is why they are collectively called bristle flies.
Photographed and identified to genus by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’ full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 2 November, 2018.
Tachinid Fly (Archytas spp.)
A tachinid fly in the genus Archytas, subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ All of the tachinid fly species have similar four-piece antennae: a tiny segment called a scape that connects to the head, a pedicel that connects to the scape, a flagellomere at the end of the pedicel, and a thin, hairlike bit, called an arista, emerging from the base of the flagellomere. Click on the photo to enlarge it. The scape is too small to be seen, but the pinkish pedicel, oval pedicel, and arista are all visible.
Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified to genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 23 June, 2017.
Tachinid Fly (Tachina fera)
Tachina fera (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
Tachina fera has a black stripe running down an otherwise orange abdomen. Depending on the individual, the stripe may be wider than that shown in this photo. This one also has very obvious light-colored feet. Its range extends from Europe to Asia and into northern Africa.
Photographed by: Claire Dormer. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: UK. Date: 9 December, 2018.
Claire says, “As flies go, it was beautiful.”
Tachinid Fly (Tachina fera)
Tachina fera (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
Tachina fera is often seen in moist areas, and the adults eat wetland plants. This species usually has an orange background color, but photographer described this one as having a strong yellow background color rather than orange.
Photographed by: Shane Crompton. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, UK. Date: 19 August, 2019.
Tachinid Fly (Tachina fera)
Tachina fera (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ This photo of Tachina fera shows off all of the intricate details, including the yellowish bristles behind the head and the rows of black bristles between the abdominal segments. See the photographer’s comments below.
Photographed by: Morney Grace. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Hereford, England, UK. Date: 16 August, 2020.
Morney says, “Not at all shy. Have not noticed more. Similar size to a bluebottle: about 15 mm (0.6 inches).”
Tachinid Fly (Tachina fera)
Tachina fera (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
Tachina fera is very similar in appearance to another species, Tachina magnicornis (no specific common name). One difference is in the black stripe running down the abdomen. In Tachina magnicornis, the stripe widens toward the rear of the abdomen. In Tachina fera, the stripe remains about the same width.
Photographed and identified by: Jonathan Marsden. Well done on the ID, Jonathan! Location: Fenhouses, Boston, Lincolnshire, UK. Date: 12 September, 2021.
Spiny Tachina Fly (Paradejeania rutilioides)
Spiny tachina fly, Paradejeania rutilioides, subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
□ The spiky hairs on this spiny tachina fly show up beautifully in this photo, as do the finer hairs on its eyes. This one was photographed in North America. Tachina fera (shown elsewhere on this page) looks similar, but is found in the UK.
Photographed and identified to subfamily by: Sue Adorjan. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ontario, Canada. Date: 24 September, 2021.
Sue says, “It really took me by surprise when I enlarged it on the computer.”
Tachinid Fly (Xanthoepalpus bicolor)
Xanthoepalpus bicolor (no specific common name), subfamily Tachininae, family Tachinidae.
Xanthoepalpus bicolor is definitely bicolored! The band of yellow is prominent against the black. See the photographer’s description below.
Photographed and identified to family by: Vivian Vanier. Identified to species by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. Date: 15 July, 2021.
Vivian says, “It was photographed on my drying laundry outside on the line. Black bristles prominent. Bum looks blunt or rounded. Yellow band striking and stubby antenna.”
Insect facts
□ Flies in the family Tachinidae are often called parasitic flies: Adult females lay their eggs on or near caterpillars or other host arthropods (or on plants that host arthropods visit), and the hatching larvae burrow into the host to begin feeding on the host’s interior tissues. This is usually fatal for the host.
Tachinid Fly (Wagneria or Periscepsia spp.)
A tachinid fly in the genus Wagneria or Periscepsia, subfamily Dexiinae, family Tachinidae.
□ This metallic-appearing tachinid fly has an assortment of bristles on its legs and abdomen. It is not a large fly (see the comment below).
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’ full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 23 March, 2022.
Thomas says, “This one is about one half the size, or possibly a little bit smaller, than that of a common green bottle fly.”
Tachinid Fly (Gastrolepta anthracina)
Gastrolepta anthracina (no specific common name), subfamily Exoristinae, family Tachinidae.
Gastrolepta anthracina is a rather slim-bodied fly with an overall dark bronze to black sheen; rust-red eyes; a black abdomen with thin, silvery bands.; and faint silvery striping at the “shoulders”. They are not often seen in England, usually only along the southern coast, which is where this photo was taken. It is more common in other parts of Europe.
Photographed by: Joe Devereux. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Suffolk, England, UK. Date: 25 October, 2020.
Joe says it was about 6 mm (a quarter inch) in length.
Bristle Fly (Belvosia spp.)
Belvosia borealis (no specific common name), subfamily Exoristinae, family Tachinidae.
Belvosia borealis looks like it is wearing a yellow-striped ballet tutu. About 2 cm (3/4 inches) long, the adults are nectar feeders. The females are parasitoids of a wide range of moths: They lay their eggs in moth caterpillars and pupae.
Photographed by: Nina Kaktins. Identified by: Paul Davis. Thank you for the ID, Paul! Location: Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA. Date: 24 July, 2020.
Nina spotted this fly “hanging out on a cardboard box” in her backyard.
Tachinid Fly (Belvosia borealis)
Belvosia borealis (no specific common name), subfamily Exoristinae, family Tachinidae.
Belvosia borealis has light-colored bands around its abdomen, bristles on its abdomen (hence its name), white around its face, and orange tips on its feet.
Photographed by: Ron Otte. Identified by: Paul Davis. Thank you for the ID, Paul! Location: Maine, USA. Date: 10 August, 2022.
Ron found this fly on his deck.

Calliphoridae, the blow, carrion, bottle and cluster flies

Blue blow fly (Calliphora vicina)
Blue blow fly, Calliphora vicina, subfamily Calliphorinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ Adult blue blow flies feed on nectar, but they tend to choose flowers with an interesting aroma: highly scented but with the essence of rotting meat. Females lay their eggs on animal dung, which is the food source for their hatching larvae/maggots.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Thank you for the ID, Eric! Location: Lille, France. Date: 5 June, 2023.
Blue Blow Fly (Calliphorna vicina)
Blue blow fly, Calliphorna vicina, subfamily Calliphorinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ Click on this photo to zoom in and see the blue abdomen of this blue blow fly. With a close look, the abdomen’s white tip is just showing. The female lays her eggs — dozens, sometimes hundreds, at a time — in carrion and other rotting organic things, and the larvae develop there.
Photographed and identified by: Brian Wenham-Baker. Location: South Hams, South Devon, England, UK. Date: 16 June, 2024.
Bryan says, “Ugly or pretty?”
Blue Bottle Fly (Calliphora vicina)
Blue blow fly, Calliphora vicina, subfamily Calliphorinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ The blue blow fly and the related blue bottle fly (shown elsewhere on this page) are almost identical. One difference is the “cheeks.” Click on the photo to zoom in and see them. Blue blow flies have orange cheeks with black hairs, while Calliphora vomitoria has black cheeks with orange hairs.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Nice identification, Bryan! Location: Ivybridge, South Hams, South Devon, England, UK. Date: 30 August, 2017.
Bryan says, “Somewhere was noted that there are some 270 species of hover fly in Britain!”
Insect facts
□ Back in the 1500s-1600s, people in England used the phrase “fly-blown” to describe meat tainted with fly eggs. Some of the culprits were flies in the family Calliphoridae, and many are still known as blow flies today.
Blue Bottle Fly (Calliphora vomitoria)
Blue bottle fly, Calliphora vomitoria, subfamily Calliphorinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ The blue abdomen and black “cheeks,” help to identify this as a blue bottle fly, also known as a holarctic blue blow fly. The body is covered with bristles, which can make it look almost fuzzy.
□ Blue bottle flies can be found on rotting meat and garbage, as well as flowers that have foul odors, such as the appropriately named skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus).
Photographed and identified to order by: Cheryl McClure. Location: Hunt County, Texas, USA. Date: 9 March, 2019.
Cheryl says, “I was surprised at how many different bugs were on the Bradford Pear, and the blue glow caught my eye!”
Click the photo to enlarge it
Insect facts
□ Oriental latrine flies are species of blow flies that feed on human feces (hence their common name), along with rotting meat and fruit. They will also gather on dead human bodies, so have become useful in forensic entomology. For more on this fly, click here (the journal Forensic Sciences Research).
Oriental Latrine Fly (Chrysomya megacephala)
Oriental latrine flies, Chrysomya megacephala, subfamily Chrysomyinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ Large red eyes and a metallic body are hallmarks of this species with the rather unflattering common name of Oriental latrine fly. They are often seen in groups like this. Note the spacing between the eyes in the two females, and the lack of a space in the male.
Photographed and identified to order by: Marv Goldberg. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Florida, USA. Date: 30 January, 2019.
Marv says, “What a horrible name for a poor insect. Considering where I live, it should be changed to occidental latrine flies!”
Oriental Latrine Fly (Chrysomya megacephala)
Oriental latrine fly, male, Chrysomya megacephala, subfamily Chrysomyinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ This oriental latrine fly was photographed in Thailand, where it is a native species.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Location: Bang Krang, Thailand. Date: 6 September, 2023.
Oriental Latrine Fly (Chrysomya megacephala)
Oriental latrine fly, male, Chrysomya megacephala, subfamily Chrysomyinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ The oriental latrine fly arrived in the United States (where this photo was taken) in the 1990s, and it continues to spread. For instance, a 2021 article (National Institute of Justice) announced the first sighting of this fly in Tennessee.
Photographed by: Sheldon L. Boyd. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: The Villages, Florida, USA. Date: 23 June, 2017.
Blue Bottle Fly (Protophormia terraenovae)
Protophormia terraenovae (no specific common name), subfamily Chrysomyinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ Characteristic features of Protophormia terraenovae include the metallic blue body, a black head and legs, and up to 1.2 cm (1/2 inch) long). This and similar-looking species in this family are collectively known as blue bottle flies.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Nice job the ID, Bryan! Location: Ivybridge, South Devon, England, UK. Date: 18 April, 2018.
Click the photo to enlarge it
Bottle Fly (possibly Hypopygiopsis spp.)
Bottle fly, possibly in the genus Hypopygiopsis, subfamily Luciliinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ The deep-blue stripes on the blue abdomen of this species of bottle fly are beautiful. This was one of many that the photographer saw. See the comment below.
Photographed by: Photographed by: Amit S. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Pune, Maharashtra, India. Date: 15 October, 2021.
“Orange-yellow flowers everywhere around and, interestingly, many blue flies too.”
Common European green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata)
Common European green bottle fly, Lucilia sericata, subfamily Luciliinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ These two common European greenbottle flies show the green and blue-green color variations. Some individuals may even look greenish-bronze.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Thank you for the ID, Eric! Location: Lille, France. Date: 5 June, 2023.
Common European Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata) and Red-Backed Jumping Spider (Phidippus johnsoni)
Common European green bottle fly, Lucilia sericata, subfamily Luciliinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ A female red-backed jumping spider (Phidippus johnsoni) makes a meal of this common European green bottle fly. A careful look at the spider’s chelicerae (the pair of huge fang-like mouthparts) shows they are metallic green, which is a characteristic of this species.
Photographed by and the fly identified by: Thomas Langhans. Nicely done, Thomas! Spider identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’ full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 26 October, 2021.
Thomas notes that this photo also shows off the fly’s calypters (calypters are wing flaps).
Common European green bottle fly (Lucilia sericata)
Common European green bottle fly, Lucilia sericata, subfamily Luciliinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ Forensics scientists use common European green bottle flies to help them determine a victim’s time of death. Because the flies will begin to lay eggs on a dead body within a very short time frame, and their ensuing life stages come at very predictable times thereafter, the scientists can work backward from the life stage discovered on the body and figure out when the death occurred.
Photographed and identified by: Jean-Louis Metzger. Location: Crowland, Norfolk, England. Date: 25 February, 2020.
Common Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata)
Common European green bottle fly, female, Lucilia sericata, subfamily Luciliinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ Although known as the common European green bottle fly, this species has now spread widely — this one was photographed in California.
Photographed by: Thomas Langhans. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. See Thomas’ full-size image here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 21 August, 2016.
Common European Green Bottle Fly (Lucilia sericata)
Common European green bottle fly, female, Lucilia sericata, subfamily Luciliinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ This series of photos shows this common European green bottle fly from several angles, which show more brown than green in the metallic sheen of the abdomen. See the photographer’s comment below.
□ This species has a regular spacing of bristles on the three segments of its thorax — see that feature by clicking on the photos, which will provide an enlarged view. The right photo gives an especially nice view of the bristle spacing on the thorax.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. Well done, Thomas! See Thomas’ full-size images here, here, and here. Location: city of San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 9 December, 2016.
Thomas says, “This sure looks like a common green bottle fly except that it has so much copper.” KnowYourInsects.org says, “Some of the green bottle flies do indeed show a great deal of copper coloration.”
Caesar Green bottle Fly (Lucilia caesar)
Bottle fly in the genus Lucilia, possibly Caeser green bottle fly, Lucilia caesar, subfamily Luciliinae, family Calliphoridae.
□ This bottle fly, is metallic green with a bit of blue farther back on the thorax (on the scutellum). As it grows older, the green and blue may fade to more of a brown color. Careful examination of the bristles is typically necessary to tell one species from another in this genus (Lucilla).
Photographed by: Mike Trier. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: London, England, UK. Date: 9 June, 2021.

Rhiniidae, the bot flies, warble flies and gadflies

Rhiniid Fly (Isomyia spp.)
Rhiniid fly, possibly in the genus Isomyia, subfamily Rhiniinae, family Rhiniidae.
□ The lime-green color of this rhiniid fly is quite spectacular, and includes green stripes on its abdomen.
□ The family Rhiniidae was formerly considered a subfamily of Calliphoridae.
Photographed and identified to order by: Evi Triana. Identified to possible genus by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Wasuponda, Luwu Timur, Sulawesi Selatan, Indonesia. Date: 6 October, 2021.
Nose fly (Idiella spp.)
Nose fly in the genus Idiella, subfamily Rhiniinae, family Rhiniidae.
□ This nose fly has banded eyes, a metallic thorax, and brown wings folded over its back. The mouthparts (at right in the photo) are at least partially extended. For a closer view of the mouthparts of a fly in this genus, click here (Flickr site, Budak).
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Thank you for the ID, Eric! Location: Mueang Nonthaburi, Thailand. Date: 19 March, 2023.
Wasp-Mimicking Fly (Stomorhina discolor)
Wasp-mimicking fly, male, Stomorhina discolor, subfamily Rhiniinae, family Rhiniidae.
□ The wasp-mimicking fly is a species in the family collectively known as nose flies due to the protruding lower face, as seen above. This species has banded eyes, a black-and-yellow banded abdomen, brown tipped wings, and a thorax that either appears uniformly dark or displays sinuous dark streaks on a light background.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Nicely done, Eric! Location: Bang Krang, Thailand. Date: 12 October, 2023.

Polleniidae, the cluster flies

Common Cluster Fly (Pollenia rudis)
Common cluster fly, Pollenia rudis, family Polleniidae.
□ These are called common cluster flies because they do indeed cluster together once cold weather arrives — often in the attic of a house. This gives rise to their other common name: attic flies.
Photographed by: Yvonne Ugarte. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK. Date: 17 October, 2016.
Yvonne says, “Beautiful markings beneath its wings.”
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Sarcophagidae, the flesh flies

Red-tailed flesh fly (Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis)
Red-tailed flesh fly, Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis, subfamily Sarcophaginae, family Sarcophagidae.
□ The left photo shows the red rump of this red-tailed flesh fly. The upper-right photo provides a nice look at the prominent upside-down black Y on its head and its blood-red eyes. And the side view shows the indented face, hair-like bristle (arista) extending up from the base of each thick antennae, and the calypters (the lobes) at the base of the forewings.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’ full-size images here, here and here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 17 September, 2022.
Red-tailed flesh fly (Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis)
Red-tailed flesh fly, Sarcophaga haemorrhoidalis, subfamily Sarcophaginae, family Sarcophagidae.
□ Look closely to see the tiny bit of red at the tip of the abdomen on this red-tailed flesh fly Often, the red is difficult to see, particularly in low-light conditions.
Photographed and identified by: Thomas Langhans. See Thomas’ full-size image here. Location: San Bruno, county of San Mateo, California, USA. Date: 15 September, 2016.
Insect facts
□ The fly family name of Sarcophagidae and the word sarcophagus (a stone coffin) are both based on a Greek word that means flesh-eating. The maggots of flies in the family Sarcophagidae actually do eat flesh from bodies, but people once erroneously believed it was the stone coffins themselves that ate the flesh of the corpses within.
Miser flesh fly (Sarcophaga dux)
A flesh fly, possibly a miser flesh fly, Sarcophaga dux, subfamily Sarcophaginae, family Sarcophagidae.
□ The miser flesh fly is one of the fly species that can cause an human infection called myiasis. The female fly lays an egg on or near a wound, and the hatching larva burrowing into the skin. A bump forms and not only expands as the larva grows, but also sometimes moves with the larva. Treatment requires surgical removal of the larva, followed by careful cleaning of the surgical site.
Photographed and identified by: Eric Blehaut. Nicely done, Eric! Location: Mueang Nonthaburi, Nonthaburi, Thailand. Date: 5 April, 2023.
Flesh fly (Sarcophaga carnaria)
Sarcophaga carnaria (no specific common name), subfamily Sarcophaginae, family Sarcophagidae.
Sarcophaga carnaria is one of the insects collectively called flesh flies, because their larvae/maggots congregate on and eat rotting meat. The species name of carnaria refers to this carnivorous diet.
Photographed and identified by: Bryan Wenham-Baker. Well done on the ID, Bryan! Location: 14 September, 2017. Location: Ivybridge, South Hams, South Devon, England UK.
Flesh fly (Sarcophaga spp.)
A flesh fly in the genus Sarcophaga, subfamily Sarcophaginae, family Sarcophagidae.
Flesh flies in this genus (Sarcophaga) have a thorax with a striped pattern, an abdomen with rather checkered appearance, and large brick-red eyes.
Photographed and identified by: Street Monk. Location: Ontario, California, USA. Date: 23 August, 2021.
Street says, “Love its stripes.”
Click the photo to enlarge it

Oestridae, the bot flies, warble flies and gadflies

Mouse Bot Fly (Cuterebra fontinella)
Mouse bot fly, Cuterebra fontinella, subfamily Cuterebrinae, family Oestridae.
□ Species in this genus (Cuterebra) have a squished-in face and bumblebee-like fuzz, as well as the noticeable calypters (wing flaps). This one is distinguished as a mouse bot fly by its black thorax with yellow fuzz on the sides, a tiny black spot on the side of the thorax, and a black abdomen with both a fuzzy hind end and a little side fuzz.
Photographed by: Allison Bedel. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Date: 27 July, 2016.
Allison says she found it while gardening. She adds, “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Mouse Bot Fly (Cuterebra fontinella)
Mouse bot fly, Cuterebra fontinella, subfamily Cuterebrinae, family Oestridae.
□ This species is called a mouse bot fly because it parasitizes mice — in other words, the female lays her eggs on vegetation in mouse habitat, the hatching larvae latch onto a passing mouse and enter the mouse’s body often through the nostrils or eyes, but also through wounds. Once inside, the larvae feed on blood and tissues, and eventually exit the mouse’s body, where they pupate and finally emerge as adults.
□ Mouse bot flies are very rarely seen, so this is a nice find!
Photographed by: Tracy Hicks. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Center Tuftonboro, New Hampshire, USA. Date: 13 July, 2017.
Tracy says she four four of these: two on the porch and two inside the house, “I’ve never seen anything like this in all my 50 years here.”
Mouse Bot Fly (Cuterebra fontinella)
Mouse bot fly, Cuterebra fontinella, subfamily Cuterebrinae, family Oestridae.
□ The mouse bot fly’s fuzzy body and somehow very cute face would make a great model for a child’s stuffed toy, but it might be a good idea to keep secret its mouse-infesting biology (see other entries).
Photographed and identified by: Tara Hilbrandt. Location: Tivoli, New York, USA. Date: 21 July, 2021.
Tara says, “Came across this interesting critter which I looked up on your site. Very cool.”
Tree Squirrel Bot Fly (Cuterebra emasculator)
Tree squirrel bot fly, Cuterebra emasculator, subfamily Cuterebrinae, family Oestridae.
□ The photographer of this adult tree squirrel bot fly christened it the “emoji bug” and with its cute mug, it is easy to see why. Weirdly, the scientific species name of “emasculator” comes from the mistaken one-time belief that the fly larvae/maggots ate the testes of male chipmunks and squirrels.
□ Tree squirrel bot flies parasitize both chipmunks and squirrels in a fashion similar to that of the mouse bot fly shown previously. The larvae get under the skin, cause a sac-like outgrowth (called a warble) to form, and live inside the warble until they finally squirm out to pupate.
Photographed by: David Price. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Tweed, Ontario, Canada. Date: 6 August, 2012.
Bot Fly (Cuterebra spp.)
A bot fly in the genus Cuterebra, subfamily Cuterebrinae, family Oestridae.
Rodent and lagomorph bot flies have a rather bumblebee-like appearance: a squat, black-and-yellow, rather fuzzy body.
Photographed by: Nicole Robinson. Identified by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Unknown. Date: 25 June, 2020.
Bot Fly (Cuterebra spp.)
A bot fly in the genus Cuterebra, subfamily Cuterebrinae, family Oestridae.
□ This excellent sequence of photos gives different views of this rodent and lagomorph bot fly, including its pug face and the yellow on its rump. Although bot flies can get to be quite large — about an inch (2.5 cm) long — few people ever see them.
Photographed and identified to family by: Melissa Jones. Identified to family by: KnowYourInsects.org. Location: Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. Date: 9 July, 2020.
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