A hoverfly is an insect and is also called a flower fly. The scientific name is Syrphidae. They are very similar to wasps, bumblebees and bees in appearance and behavior (mimicry) but they are flies and therefore have 2 wings hence the scientific name: Diptera (two-winged). Moreover they do not have a sting and no jaws to bit with, so they are harmless to people.
They are important bioindicators for veteran trees and their associated tree-related microhabitats (TreMs), as pollinators of crops and wild flowers. Unfortubately they seem to be declining in a rapid pace.
Hoverflies can be found almost everywhere on Earth, except at the North or South Pole. The adult flies can often be found on flowers very important as pollinators), but also walking around on leaves or flying around trees. The larvae live on aphids (biocontrol), beetle larvae, in wasp or ant nests, in plant roots or bulbs, in sap from trees, rotting plants (decomposing, waste disposal) in ditches or puddles and in rotten cavities in trees. The larvea could also provide proteine for human food.
About insects, hoverflies and mimicry
The general build of insects is the same with a head, a thoracic with 6 legs attached, and an abdomen. Wings and/or elytra are often attached to the thorax, which may or may not cover the abdomen. For example, beetles have an elytra with often wings underneath. In bees, wasps and bumblebees the elytra have been transformed into wings and these insects therefore have 2 pairs of wings. Ants, which also belong to the bees, are often wingless except for the males and queens. In the family of flies (Diptera), which also includes hoverflies (Syrphidae), the hind wings are reduced to club-shaped halters.
The characteristics of bees, bumblebees and wasps are the yellow with black and sometimes red colours, the long coloured hair, the long movable antennae (feelers), the often constricted abdomen, the head with small eyes and jaws, four wings that can be folded (that's why they are also called fold-wing wasps) and on the hind leg a place where pollen is collected. They often walk restlessly over flowers, breathing through the movement of the abdomen. Another important feature is that they have a stinger with which they can spray venom under once skin. Especially because of this dirty poison, other insects, reptiles and birds do not like them.
The hoverfly also does not want to be eaten and thus tries to mislead attackers by pretending they are those foul-tasting bees, wasps or bumblebees. This is called mimicry. The hoverfly is therefore often yellow with black coloured or very hairy.
Unlike bees, wasps and bumblebees, a hoverfly has short, almost immobile antennae, large eyes, and only 2 wings that cannot be folded. Moreover, they have no jaws (just a tongue) and no stinger, so they are completely harmless and you can pick them up to study them without worry.
In addition to the color of the hoverfly, they also try to resemble bees, wasps or bumblebees in other ways. Below is a brief schematic overview:
Long movable antennae: move the (dark) front legs in front of the head or by having elongated antennae or antennae on a long cusp.
Constricted abdomen: sometimes also constricted abdomen or by colors that give the impression of constriction.
Wings folded at rest: Wings with a dark leading edge appear narrower when superimposed.
Hind leg with pollen: thickenings on the hind leg sometimes with bunches of long hairs.
Breathing with the abdomen: moving the wings back and forth over the abdomen, it seems as if the abdomen itself is moving.
Below are a few photos of a hoverfly and the insects they mimic. do you know which hover fly is? (these pictures are yet to come)
What does a hoverfly look like and how are the different parts named.
The female of Pipizella ochreobasalis van Steenis & Lucas, 2011 is shown opposite.
All insects, including hoverflies, have a:
Head consisting of eyes, mouth, and face.
Thorax with a scutum, pleura and attached to it are the legs (3 pairs), and possibly the wings and halter.
Abdomen divided into segments and with a back and a belly.
In the following figures, each body part is shown separately with numbers that refer to the different parts.
A Antenna (spriet)
B Frons (voorhoofd)
C Eye (oog)
D Vertex (kruin)
E Arista (sprietborstel)
F Occiput )Brauw)
G Ocellar triangle (Ocellen bult)
A Proleg (poot 1)
B Mesoleg (poot 2)
C Haltere (halter)
D Scutellum (schildje)
E Metaleg (poot 3)
F Tarsus (voet)
G Tibia (scheen)
H Femur (dij)
A Scutellum (schildje)
B Tergum I (achterlijfssegment 1)
C Tergum II (segment 2)
D Tergum III (segment 3)
E Tergum IV (segment 4)
F Tergum V (segment 5)
A Vein CuP (ader CuP)
B Vein CuA (ader CuA)
C Vein M (ader M)
D Vein CuA (ader CuA)
E Vein CuA+CuP (ader CuA+CuP)
F Vein M4 (ader M4)
G Vein M (ader M)
H Vein dm-m (ader dm-m)
I Vein M (ader M)
J Vein M1 (ader M1)
K Vein r-m (ader r-m)
L Vein Sc (subcostaal ader)
M Vein C (costaal ader)
N Vein R1 (ader R1)
O Vein R2+3 (ader R 2+3)
P Vein R4+5 (ader R 4+5)
Q Vein R4+5+M1 (ader M1 + R 4+5)
A Alula (bijvleugel)
B Cell cua (cel IV = cua)
C Cell bm (cel V = bm)
D Cell dm (cel III = dm)
E Cell r4+5 (cel II = r4+5)
F Pterostigma (stigma)
G vena spuria (zwevende ader)
H Cell r1 (cel I = r1)