Syrphid Fly – Eristalis anthophorina

Syrphid Fly – Eristalis anthophorina
Order Diptera | Family Syrphidae – Flower Flies, Hover Flies

A superb bumble bee mimic photographed in the wild at Marienville, Pennsylvania, USA.
Eristalis anthophorina
Flies in the family Syrphidae are commonly called flower or hover flies.  The coloring and movements of most species mimic bees or wasps; they can be superb bumble bee mimics, as the specimen pictured here. Others mimic the vespid wasps, with their bold yellow and black patterns; some species (temnostoma) go so far as to wave their front legs in front of their face to mimic the jointed antennae of aculeate wasps.

Adult syrphids require nectar or honeydew and pollen to ensure their reproduction (as well as to power their physical activities), and larvae generally require aphids for breakfast, lunch and dinner to complete their development. However, in the absence of aphids, larvae of some species can subsist and develop entirely on diets of pollen [1].

Eristalis anthophorina
Flies in genus Eristalis are characterized by pubescent compound eyes. This is a female specimen.

Syrphid flies are routinely used as a biological control in the lettuce fields of California's vegetable-producing regions, where the fly's larvae are generally effective in controlling lettuce aphid (Nasonovia ribisnigri). It is primarily the Syrphidae that enable organic romaine growers on California's central coast to produce harvestable crops.

Syrphidae larvae are, in turn, parasitized by wasps in the Hymenoptera families Ichneumonidae and Pteromalidae [1].


  1. University of California, DANR, “Biological Control Agents for Aphids in Vegetable Crops” .pdf
  2., Eristalis anthophorina
Flies of North America – Order Diptera. Flies are prevalent in virtually all habitats, with over 16,000 species in North America. Flies can be distinguished from all other insects in that they only have one pair of normal wings. Most flies have compound eyes and mouthparts adapted for piercing, lapping or sucking fluids.
Syrphidae | Flies Index | Tachinidae | Bee Flies | Robber Flies