These often colourful flies which belong to the insect order Diptera, which is the ‘true flies’, are sometimes mistaken for bees or wasps, which some of them cleverly mimic. Yet these are the friendly flies, not only because they are excellent pollinators, but because some species have larvae that feed on pests like aphids. Other species of larvae live in the nests of social wasps and bees, and also ants, feeding on detritus and sometimes the host’s larvae itself, whilst other species are aquatic and live underwater in pools or ponds.
There are around 280 species of hoverfly in the British isles, and 6,000 worldwide. Hoverflies belong to the family Syrphidae, and they are also referred to as syrphid flies or flower flies.
Below species have been arranged in their tribes for ease of use.
Unidentified Hoverfly Larvae
For further reference and with help and thanks for confirming identifcation of some of the more challenging species see the links below.
Hoverfly Recording Scheme – The hoverflies (Diptera, Syrphidae) are a family of attractive and familiar flies that we all see visiting flowers.
Facebook UK Hoverflies Group – UK Hoverflies is a recording group focusing on Hoverflies sighted in the United Kingdom.The group is affiliated with the UK Hoverfly Recording Scheme for the recording and identification of Hoverflies seen in the UK
Facebook UK Hoverflies Larval Group – UK Hoverflies Larval group focuses on UK hoverfly larvae and matters relating to them.
iRecord – iRecord is a website for sharing wildlife observations, including associated photos – you can register quickly and for free. Once you’ve registered, you can add your own biological records for other to see, and you can see what has been recorded by others. The goal of iRecord is to make it easier for wildlife sightings to be collated, checked by experts and made available to support research and decision-making at local and national levels.
NBN Atlas – The NBN (National Biodiversity Network) Atlas is an online tool that provides a platform to engage, educate and inform people about the natural world. It will help improve biodiversity knowledge, open up research possibilities and change the way environmental management is carried out in the UK.
A very useful publication Britain’s Hoverflies is an invaluable resource which covers 165 species and the 70 British genera.