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 yellow and black colors mean they are likely to be left alone and not attacked as frequently by predators. This particular species looks and flies like a Yellowjacket, which is known for aggressive defensive (and offensive) stinging behavior. The Virginia 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. An unusual feature is the flattened abdomen that can bend downward. This species of fly is actually quite beneficial to have in the garden because it is an active pollinator of the flowers 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 charmingly called 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)
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