This fly looks like a wasp and is a fine mimic. Despite similar physical appearance and even flight behavior, the Flower Fly is just a fly. It does not have a stinger and is not venomous. In fact, it is a wonderful pollinator and is a benefit to gardens and farms.
The dramatic black and yellow coloration wards off would-be predators. Upon closer examination, one can see there is no stinger at the tip of the abdomen. The Flower Fly may 'hover' in flight, like wasps, and that behavior led to them being called Hover Flies in Europe. They are common in the central and western regions of North America. They can also be found in Africa.
This particular species' larvae feeds on aphids, tiny insects that eat plant juices. Because of that diet, Flower Flies help keep aphid populations down so plants and flowers suffer less.
Common name: Flower Fly
Scientific Name: Scaeva pyrastri
Other Names: Wasp Mimic, Hover Fly
Adult Size (Length): 8mm to 20mm (0.31in to 0.79in) COMPARE
Identifying Colors: black; white; yellow
General Description: bee, wasp, flying, harmless
North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Arizona; Arkansas; California; Colorado; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Michigan; Minnesota; Missouri; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Mexico; North Dakota; Ohio; Oklahoma; South Dakota; Texas; Utah; Wisconsin; Wyoming; Mexico
* Keep in mind that insect reach is not governed by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.