6 August 2011

Garden Hoverflies

I don't know about your garden but at the moment mine seems to be awash with Hoverflies and by far the most abundant is the Marmalade Fly - Episyrphus balteatus.

There seems to be a lot more this year than normal and I guess not everyone  finds them as interesting as I do but it is worth remembering that they are completely harmless and they are not wasps despite their appearance.

They seem quite unfazed by humans and even curious, often hovering near to you for a closer look but they do not have sting or bite so no need to swat them. A gentle wave of the arm is all that is needed to "move them on"  if they are are annoying you.

They are, in fact, doing a great job as pollinators and in my garden they are particularly interested in the vegetable patch where the runner beans are in full flower.

Marmalade Fly - Episyrphus balteatus

Marmalade Fly - Episyrphus balteatus

Resting on the Grape Vine.

Marmalade Fly - Episyrphus balteatus

Marmalade Fly - Episyrphus balteatus
The other irresistible thing about this Hoverfly is to try to take pictures of it in flight because it is so obliging and with a little bit of patience and trial and error it isn't too difficult to achieve.

The Marmalade Fly may be the most abundant Hoverfly in the garden but it is not the only one . There are over 250 species of Hoverfly in the UK but maybe only 40 of these are "common" and many of these will be unlikely to turn up in your garden.

Here are a few that did visit this weekend

Scaeva pyrastri on "Fox and Cubs" flower

Quite a large dark hoverfly typically seen in mid summer visiting flowers though not in great numbers. Sometimes called Pied Hoverfly.


Euopedes species
This is a much smaller hoverfly than the Pied and together there would be no mistaking them but in isolation they can be confusing, especially when you are first setting out to start differentiating and identifying the different hoverflies you see. To make things even more difficult some species (like this one) can have a wide variety of forms with different amounts of black and yellow.


Euopedes species - in flight

These are a bit more flighty than the Marmalade Fly and a bit harder to get an in-flight shot. To be honest I think this was more luck than judgement. I was probably trying to get a shot of it on the plant and it moved! Just luckily got it in focus.

Sphaerophoria scripta

This is a small slender hoverfly so easily distinguished from many others.  Not that common but not rare either and I usually spot the odd one at this time of year. This is a female which is a little smaller than the male. See below.

Sphaerophoria scripta - Male

This male was not in the garden but at Grove Hill. One of the ID features for a scripta male is that the abdomen is so long that it extends far beyond the folded wingtips. Even though the wings are not folded here it is quite obvious that the abdomen is much longer.


  1. Excellent images again, Pete. I can see you take a lot of care with your photography.

  2. A brilliant series of shots. I was only thinking this morning that their numbers were increasing rapidly recently. Especially when we walked through several 'clouds' of them on our early morning walk.

  3. Mike. Chris, John, Thanks for your comments


  4. Ha! I was just thinking I should start identifying hoverflies.....but I open the book and get discouraged by too many species. A few species like this I can cope with. Great set of pictures. Thank you! Mel

  5. Hi Mel. HaHa, they can certainly be very confusing but if you get to grips with a few of the more common ones it is then easier to spot the less usual ones and start to differentiate them. And remember most people jut think they are wasps :-)