Monday, March 22, 2010

Flower fly

Flower flies in the family Syrphidae are hugely beneficial insects to have around the garden. The young larva feed predominantly on aphids. There are a few species that even specialize in specific aphids. Then there are a few species of flower fly larvae that feed on most any insect they can capture. The adults are pollinators, but not to the extent of bees or even butterflies. Their resemblance to bees has often resulted in their untimely demise. People who have an innate fear of stinging insects, whack first and ask questions later. One key way to determine if the insect you are looking at is a bee or a fly is to count the number of wings. If the insect in question has 4 wings (2 sets) then you are most likely looking at a bee. If it only has two wings (1 set) then rest assured it is a fly. These pretty little bugs are harmless to humans. These are some of the first insects I see in the garden when the weather warms up. They are fairly easy to approach and photograph, and there is no shortage of unique flower flies to find and study. Just remember no whacking the flower flies.


  1. Shelly, I know this little guy! I had them all over my cosmos and any daisy-like blossoms in the garden last year. :) I assumed they were good pollinator friends (I don't whack, ever, but esp. not bees!), but I'm thrilled to learn their larvae are beneficial as well.

    I suspect I had several different kinds in the garden; one that was very prevalent had a burgundy body and the most lovely big burgundy-tinted eyes to match. He was an exact match for the color of a cosmos seed in formation, which I found a delightful coincidence (maybe not so coincidental, though, considering the way nature works).

  2. I love the flower flies, they are so pretty. There are so many types of them, and so many sizes and colors. I am amazed at how people believe the ruse and think they are bees. They're disguise is foolproof.