You'll want to learn how to identify Hover Flies because they resemble wasps and bees -
but don't be afraid, Hover Flies don't sting or bite!
Also called Flower Flies, Syrphid Flies or Drones flies, they have a characteristic flight pattern: hovering on one spot, moving suddenly forwards or backwards and then hovering again. They appear in large numbers in hot weather, lingering in gardens to feed at flowers and seek shade. They are beneficial insects for gardeners with many species ridding the garden of annoying aphids.
Sphaeorphoria sp. (male)
Eristalis arbustorum (female)
They are often mistaken for wasps or bees because of their black and yellow markings. They are either stout-bodied and covered with hair ressembling a bumble bee, or brightly patterned with yellow, orange and black like wasps or honey bees. The big difference between wasps and Hover Flies are the body shape and antennae. Wasps have long antennae and cylindrical abdomen; Hover Flies have short antennae and flatterned abdomen. But don't be tricked! Some Hover Flies wave their front legs as if they were antennae. Hover Flies also have large heads and clear wings.
If you get really close you will be able to identify the male from the female by their eyes. These two images are of Sericomyia Chrysotoxoides. The one on the left is a male with its touching eyes. The female on the right has eyes that are broadly separated.
To see more images of Hover Flies, click on the thumbnails below.