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Common Drone Fly (Eristalis tenax)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Drone Fly

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Image Credit: Dave E., taken in Swaledale, IA
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Image Credit: Dave E., taken in Swaledale, IA
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The Common Drone Fly is a honeybee mimic, and it is just as fond of flower nectar as bees are of pollen.

Updated: 02/02/2022; Authored By ; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
A common fly across the continent, the Drone Fly is a superb bee mimic. Drones in the bee world are the stingless males, and their appearance differs from other bees in that they have large eyes and a different banding pattern on the abdomen. The Drone Fly resembles the bee drone in those ways.

Adults are often seen taking nectar from flowers, but the larvae prefer aquatic environments, particularly stinky, stagnant water. The maggot grows a breathing tube from its rear and uses it to breath while the rest of the larva remains below the water?s surface. They are part of the Rat-tailed Maggot group of hoverflies. This tube allows it to feed on rotting material in the water. Adults may be found near long-standing puddles, ditches, or other wet areas that could act as a nursery.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Common-Drone-Fly

nectar (adults); rotting organic material (larvae/maggots)
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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Insect antennae icon
Flying insect icon
Hairy insect icon
Harmless insect icon
Striped or banded insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Diptera
        Family: Syrphidae
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          Genus: Eristalis
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            Species: tenax

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Eristalis tenax
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 13mm to 15mm (0.51" to 0.59")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; yellow
Descriptors: fuzzy back; short antennae; broken band; buzzing; flying; big eyes; hourglass; disconnected band; black bottom; hairy; harmless

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 13mm (0.5in) and 15mm (0.6in)
Lo: 13mm
Md: 14mm
Hi: 15mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Drone Fly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Common Drone Fly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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