DipteraDiptera – image index Flies Australian Sheep Blowfly (Lucilia cuprina) Australian Drain Fly Balaana Beefly Bat Flies Bee Flies Chrysomya saffranea Clogmia (Moth Fly) Eristalinus punctulatus Musca Odontomyia (Soldier Flies) Robber Flies Sarcophaga aurifrons Soldier Fly Syrphids

The Syrphids group of insects, commonly known as hoverflies, flower flies or Syrphids, belong to a large family of flies in the order Diptera, family Syrphidae, that contain over 6,000 species, across 200 genera, that have been described.

These flies are usually easy to distinguish from other insects and the common flies, due to their morphology, their colour patterns, flying behaviour and feeding habits. The hover flies have a characteristic flight pattern, where they hover in one spot, moving suddenly forwards or sideways, then hovering again.

The adult hoverflies feed on pollen and nectar, making them one of the most important flower visiting insects and held in high regard as pollinators.

Common Halfband (Melangyna viridiceps), Sydney NSW
Common Halfband (Melangyna viridiceps), Sydney NSW

The hover flies are small to medium sized flies with large heads, large eyes, and small or inconspicuous antennae. Their bodies are medium to slender, with a slight narrow waist, unless it is a wasp mimicking species. The hover flies that mimic wasps, will have a narrow wasp-like waist, a warning colouration of yellow and black, and will also have the ability to mimic the stinging action of a wasp (although they do not sting). Some hover flies appear to have a more stout shaped abdomen. They have a pair of clear wings, and the banded forms have yellow and black bands of equal width.

Golden Native Drone Fly (Eristalinus punctulatus) rescued from a swimming pool in Alice Springs NT
Female Golden Native Drone Fly (Eristalinus punctulatus), Alice Springs NT

The different larvae species, enjoy a variety of food resources, that include dung, tree sap, nests of social insects, fungal fruiting bodies (mycophagous), decaying vegetation and wood, leaves and stems of plants, and other insects such as leafhoppers, coccids and aphids. This makes the hover flies not only important pollinators, but also good biological control agents for insect pests.

The aphid-eating hover fly larvae have a flattened shape and maggot-like. Most larvae are green or brown in colour.

Yellow-shouldered Hover Fly (Ischiodon scutellaris), Alice Springs NT
Yellow-shouldered Hover Fly (Ischiodon scutellaris), Alice Springs NT

Check out our information on Eristalinus punctulatus, Ischiodon scutellaris, Melangyna viridiceps and Simosyrphus grandicornis.

The family Syrphidae, is under the order Diptera.


  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Hexapoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Informal: Pterygotes
  • Order: Diptera
  • Suborder: Brachycera
  • Infraorder: Cyclorrhapha
  • Informal: Aschiza
  • Superfamily: Syrphoidea
  • Family: Syrphidae
  • Subfamilies:
    • Eristaliinae Malloch, 1922
    • Microdontinae Verrall, 1901
    • Pipizinae Williston, 1885
    • Syrphinae Latreille, 1802

Footnote & References

  1. Syrphidae Latreille, 1802, Atlas of Living Australia, https://bie.ala.org.au/species/https://biodiversity.org.au/afd/taxa/26c49aaf-5536-4012-b890-0e05ef187271
  2. Hover Flies Family Syrphidae, iNaturalistAU, https://inaturalist.ala.org.au/taxa/49995-Syrphidae
  3. Hover Flies, Australian Museum, https://australian.museum/learn/animals/insects/hover-flies/
  4. Hoverfly, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoverfly

DipteraDiptera – image index Flies Australian Sheep Blowfly (Lucilia cuprina) Australian Drain Fly Balaana Beefly Bat Flies Bee Flies Chrysomya saffranea Clogmia (Moth Fly) Eristalinus punctulatus Musca Odontomyia (Soldier Flies) Robber Flies Sarcophaga aurifrons Soldier Fly Syrphids

InsectsBees Beetles Blattodea Butterflies Coleoptera Cicada Crabronidae Diptera Dragonflies & Damselflies Formicidae Hemiptera Heteroptera (True Bugs) Mango Planthopper Moths Orthoptera Orthopteroid Processionary Caterpillar Stink Bugs, Shield Bugs and Allies Syrphidae Wasps Water Scorpion (Laccotrephes tristis) Witchetty Grub