Image Credit: Image copyright www.InsectIdentification.org; No Reproduction Permitted
Image Credit: Stacy L. from GA
Image Credit: Susan B. from Old Fort, NC
This harmless woodland Flower Fly doesn't float like a butterfly or sting like a bee, but it behaves a little bit like both of them.
Some flies are fantastic mimics of bees, wasps and hornets. The alarming colors mean they are likely to be left alone and not attacked as frequently by predators. This particular species looks like and also flies like Yellowjackets, which are known for aggressive defensive (and offensive) stinging behavior. This Flower Fly hovers over blossoms like wasps and can be easily mistaken for one. Since it is a fly, however, it does not sting and is considered harmless to people. The loud buzzing it makes when it flies is not a characteristic of wasps, but is natural for a fly. This species of fly is actually quite beneficial to have in the garden, like butterflies, because it is also an active pollinator of the flower species it visits, which aids the plant in reproducing. It has a reputation of sometimes hovering by people's heads, as if trying to tell them something. For that reason, it was once known as a 'news bee' because it acted as if it was delivering the daily news. It is an endearing insect and so well-liked that the U.S. Post Office featured them on a postage stamp in 1999 when it showcased insects.
Adults can be found in a variety of habitats ranging from forests and meadows to parks and backyard gardens. Adults are most active during the summer months and can be found around flowers or resting on low shrubs and plants. Larvae (maggots) are likely to be found in rotting wood where they will feed until they develop into flying adults.
Scientific Name: Milesia virginiensis
Other Name(s): Hover Fly, News Bee, Yellowjacket Hover Fly, Virginia Flower Fly
Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 21mm (0.70in to 0.82in)
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.