As their common names suggest, they are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers; the adults of many species feed mainly on nectar and pollen, while the larvae (maggots) eat a wide range of foods. In some species, the larvae are saprotrophs, eating decaying plant and animal matter in the soil or in ponds and streams. In other species, the larvae are insectivores and prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects.
Aphids alone cause tens of millions of dollars of damage to crops worldwide every year; because of this, aphid-feeding hoverflies are being recognized as important natural enemies of pests, and potential agents for use in biological control. Some adult syrphid flies are important pollinators.
About 6,000 species in 200 genera have been described. Hoverflies are common throughout the world and can be found on every continent except Antarctica. Hoverflies are harmless despite their mimicry of the black and yellow stripes of wasps, which serves to ward off predators.
Many species of hoverfly larvae prey upon pest insects, including aphids and the leafhoppers which spread some diseases like curly top. Therefore they are seen in biocontrol as a natural means of reducing the levels of pests.
Bugs get away with murder ; A hoverfly species from the Burren uses a chemical disguise to trick its way into ant nests. Emma Napper reports
Aug 22, 2002; Hidden under the rocks of the Burren, some of Ireland's rarest bugs are getting away with murder. The Hoverfly, Microdon...
Intraguild interactions between the predatory hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus (Diptera: Syrphidae) and the Asian ladybird, Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae): Effect of larval tracks
Jan 01, 2010; Key words. Syrphidae, Coccinellidae, Episyrphus balteatus, Harmonia axyridis, larval tracks, Vicia faba, aphids,...