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Deadhead Hover Fly (Myathropa florea)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Deadhead Hover Fly

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Image Credit: Mimi B.
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A European native, the Deadhead Hover Fly has landed in North America, pollinating flowers along the Pacific Northwest.

Updated: 09/23/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
A clever bee mimic, the Deadhead Hover Fly is yellow with black bands on its body. The black bands take the shape of a capital letter 'i'. Each segment of the abdomen has a top and bottom line with a connecting midline. The native American Hover Fly looks similar, but does not have a middle black line. True to its name, the Deadhead Hover Fly can hover over blossoms and plants, like a bee or wasp. It has a robust abdomen and lacks long, thin antennae - two features that help distinguish it from those stinging insects.

'Deadhead' is a common term used by gardeners to describe flowers that are spent or pollinated. Once pollination occurs, a flower no longer needs to put on a show, so its petals wither and fall off. This process creates unsightly deadheads that are quickly pruned or cut off by judicious gardeners. Removing deadheads not only improves the aesthetics of the plant, it also encourages the plant to grow even more flowers. It is likely that this fly pollinates flowers as it feeds on nectar, thereby expediting the creation of deadheads. It does not sting nor bite, so it is not harmful to people.

General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying 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: Myathropa
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            Species: florea
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Myathropa florea
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 10mm to 14mm (0.39" to 0.55")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, yellow
Descriptors: bands, bee mimic, flying, harmless

Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 10mm (0.4in) and 14mm (0.6in)
Lo: 10mm
Md: 12mm
Hi: 14mm
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 Deadhead Hover 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 Deadhead Hover Fly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.


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