How to identify hoverflies

Enchanting but overlooked, hoverflies are easy to find - even a hanging basket can lure them. Midsummer is the time to seek them out.

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All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

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1. Syrphus ribessi (above)

One of three very similar yellow and black banded species. Produces the loud hum often heard in midsummer woods. Also seen in gardens and fields.

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2. Xanthogramma pedissequum

Mimics wasps, with yellow triangles on first abdominal segment; dark wing marks. Grassland, mainly in south.

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3. Marmalade hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Unique pattern of double black bars on each abdominal segment. Open countryside, woods and gardens.

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4. Scaeva pyrastri

Large, with white ‘comma’ markings on black abdomen. Migrates from mainland Europe to UK gardens and open country; numbers vary annually.

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5. Eristalis arbustorum

Medium-sized dronefly. Mimics honeybees; usually has bold orange triangles at base of abdomen. Open countryside, woods and gardens.

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6. Tapered drone-fly Eristalis pertinax

Large drone-fly. Mimics honeybees. Yellow-tipped front and middle legs. Open country, woods and gardens.

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7. Eristalis intricarius (male)

Furry bumblebee mimic. Sexes are unusually well differentiated: tail is white in male and reddish in female. Gardens and open countryside.

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8. Helophilus pendulus

Yellow-striped thorax. Gardens, open country and woods. Breeds in ponds, compost and manure. H. Hybridus is a very similar wetland species.

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9. Volucella inanis

Large. Mimics hornets; the similar V. zonaria is even larger and rustier. Gardens and woodland edge; mainly in south and Midlands but spreading.

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10. Volucella bombylans

Excellent bumblebee mimic with several colour forms, including black/white and yellow, and black and red. Gardens, hedgerows and woodland.

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11. Great pied hoverfly Volucella pellucens

Large and unmistakeable, with broad white patches on fat, black abdomen. Woodland rides, lanes and gardens.

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12. Xylota segnis

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Mimics solitary wasps. Orange band on slim black abdomen; partly yellow legs. Leafy gardens, hedgerows and woods; scuttles over leaves and logs.