University of Maryland Extension

Meet a Pollinator: Flower Fly

flower fly on orange flower
Flower fly
Photo: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,

Flower fly (Family: Syrphidae)

  • Often confused with sweat bees, they are stingless flies that mimic the appearance of small bees in order to avoid predators.

  • Frequently found swarming around – and sometimes landing on - humans, likely attracted to moisture and salts on our skin.

  • Exhibit a characteristic flight pattern they hover and can abruptly change position, earning them the nickname "hoverflies".

  • Adults are mainly nonselective pollinators, feeding on nectar and pollen from a variety of plants and agriculturally important crops including strawberries, peppers, pears, and almonds.

  • Generally, prefer white and yellow-colored flowers and due to their short mouthparts, most also prefer flowers with a more open shape. They allow the nectar and pollen to be more easily accessed.

  • Some species appear to be less affected by land use changes than many bee species. They are better able to use resources from highly modified habitats – including agricultural fields.

  • The larval stages of many Syrphid species are also beneficial in the landscape, preying on soft-bodied pest insects like aphids and thrips.

By University of Maryland graduate student Veronica Yurchak. February 2020

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2020. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.