Hoverflies – Why Are They Important to Your Garden?

Hoverflies - Why Are They Important to Your Garden
Hoverflies – Why Are They Important to Your Garden

Hoverflies (Syrphid Flies) are a crucial part of any garden. Hoverflies look like bees or wasps, and they hover in the air, darting back and forth before hovering again. They feed on nectar as adults and soft-bodied insects such as aphids, thrips, scale insects, and caterpillars when they’re larvae. These are some of the few beneficial insects that you will regularly see in your garden. They help control pests while pollinating flowers at the same time!

Identification of Hoverfly

Hoverflies can often be mistaken for bees or wasps, which is why it’s so important to understand how they look.

Larva

Hoverfly Larva
Hoverfly Larva
  • Hoverfly larvae look like maggots.
  • They are insectivores.
  • Hoverfly larvae can be green or brown, and they often have spots or lines on their bodies.

Pupa

Hoverfly Pupa
Hoverfly Pupa
  • Hoverfly pupa is shaped like a water drop.
  • Pupa can be attached to a twig or leaf.
  • Hoverfly pupa is green but changes into brown color as it evolves.

Adult

Hoverfly Adult
Hoverfly Adult
  • Hoverfly has body colors similar to a wasp or bee, but their head looks like a fly.
  • They have large eyes and short antennae, which is different from wasps or bees who have small eyes and long antennae.
  • Their wings are spread when resting.
  • Hoverflies can have orange and black or white and black markings on their bodies.
  • Their bodies look smooth with shiny abdomens with some hair.
  • Hoverfly will hover in the air as it flies from flower to flower, looking for nectar.

Life cycle of Hoverfly

Hoverflies pupa overwinters in the soil, under fallen leaves, or attached to garden debris. The adult hoverfly emerges from early spring to early fall. They will mate, and females will look for a place with colonies of soft-bodied insects to lay eggs. During their lifecycle, females can lay up to 100 eggs.

These beneficial insects lay eggs on the undersides of leaves and stems, where their larvae can access soft-bodied insects straight after hatching. Hoverfly larvae will hatch and voraciously eat the soft-body insects for approximately a week. Then, they will pupate and become adults. As adults, they will mate and pollinate flowers while looking for nectar. There are typically three to seven generations every year.

Pests Control

Hoverfly larvae eat a variety of pests and eggs, including:

How to Attract Hoverfly to Your Garden?

Plant fruits, vegetables, and herbs that attract hoverflies, such as:

  • Carrot
  • Caraway
  • Dill
  • Fruit trees
  • Fennel
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Mustard
  • Radish

Plant flowers that attract hoverflies such as:

  • Alyssum
  • Aster
  • Coreopsis
  • Cosmos
  • Daises
  • Marigolds
  • Sunflowers
  • Zinnia

Flowering hedges like Bird Cherry, Mexican Orange, and Laurel hedge can also help attract hoverflies.

Also, weeds like dandelion, yarrow, bugleweed, knapweed, and ivy will attract hoverflies.

Interesting Facts About Hoverflies

  • These beneficial insects can be found throughout the world, and they’re often mistaken for bees or wasps. Hoverflies are actually flies that mimic bees and wasps to protect themselves from predators.
  • Hoverflies can hover and buzz around humans, but they are not dangerous. They don’t have stingers as bees or wasps do, and they do not bite.
  • They will hover in mid-air as they fly between flowers, looking for nectar, which is where their name comes from.
  • Aphid odor attracts hoverflies, so you can help lure them to your garden if aphids are a problem.
  • Hoverflies can eat up to 400 soft-bodied insects, each as larvae, which is why these insects are so important to your garden!

What to Do Next

Check out our other Beneficial Insects Guides. Read and learn more about how to identify, their benefit, and how to attract them.

Check out our  Garden Pests Guides. Read and learn about how to identify and control garden pests.

Also, check out our Gardening Guides to learn easy step-by-step tutorials.

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