On this page, Overview - mimicry - food and behaviour - hover fly eggs - hoverfly larvae - related pages
There are 6,000 species of hoverfly world wide, and 276 species in the U. K. The adults are often brightly coloured attractive flies. Note the the aristate antennae (see photographs below) and huge eyes typical of the more "advanced" flies.
Above is an aphid-eating hoverfly larvae. It has stuck the skins of sucked-dry aphids to its body - they are the little white things on the centre of its body. A larva like this can eat 50 aphids a day.
When the larva pupates the pupa is brown and stuck to the plant.
There are also aquatic larva, like the rat-tailed maggot below.
The eggs are usually white. Eggs that hatch into carnivorous larvae are usually glued singly to plants amongst or near their prey. Eggs of non-carnivorous species are usually laid in batches on or near the larval food.
Many hoverflies mimic the colouration and/or hairiness of social bees and wasps. This enables them to avoid attack by predators who believe they might be able to sting. This form of mimicry is termed Batesian mimicry.
Many Hover fly larvae are slug-like and eat aphids (see below left), others are scavengers.
Adult hover flies feed on pollen and nectar.
Flight speed has been recorded as 3.5 metres per second with a wing beat of 120 per second. Compare this with other insects. Hoverflies are valuable pollinators.
The photograph on the below shows mate seeking behaviour. The male hoverfly generally has two strategies in seeking a mate.