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AliasesHover Fly

Syrphid flies, flower flies, sweat bees

Physical Features

Beneficial hover flies go undercover in fear-invoking disguises as adults. Although their yellow and black stripes make them look like tough fighting bees and wasps, their days of counterattacking crime are over. These flies cannot sting, but they will pretend they can, pressing their stinger-less butts down when threatened.
Larvae of hover flies (also known as ‘rat-tailed maggots’) look much like the maggots you find in your garbage, but are usually colored brightly green and yellow.

Beneficial Features

Slow moving and soft-bodied insects like aphids are on hover fly maggots’ list of criminals to capture. They can be found patrolling aphid colonies on the undersides of leaves. It’s not uncommon for a maggot to become a decorated officer for apprehending as many as 400 aphids during its youth (about 2-3 weeks)! Adult hover flies are in retirement from chasing down insects and spend their time feeding on aphid honeydew and flower nectar.


  • Provide many flowery hangouts for adults to reminisce about the good ol’ days while they kick back some grub. Plan your landscape so there’s always something blooming during the growing season.
  • Hover fly maggots are not as tough as they look. Many pesticides used in yards can kill them.

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For more information, contact Scarlet Tang or Todd Murray
WSU Cooperative Extension (360) 676-6736
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