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Virginia Flower Fly (Milesia virginiensis)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Virginia Flower Fly



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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.



Updated: 08/24/2020; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Some flies are fantastic mimics of bees, wasps, and hornets, and this is one of them. The yellow and black banding deters attacks by cautious predators. This particular species flies like a Yellowjacket, known for aggressive defensive (and offensive) stinging behavior, giving predators another convincing reason to leave it alone. The Virginia Flower Fly can also hover over blossoms like a wasp. Since it is a fly, however, it does not sting and is harmless to people. The loud buzzing it makes when it flies is natural for a fly. It has an unusually flat abdomen that can bend downward giving it a broken appearance.

This species of fly is 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 it on a postage stamp in 1999 when it showcased insects.

Adult Virginia Flower Flies 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.




General Characteristics
Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying 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: Milesia
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            Species: virginiensis
Identifying Information
Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Milesia virginiensis
Other Name(s): Hover Fly, News Bee, Yellowjacket Hover Fly, Virginia Flower Fly
Category: Fly or Mosquito
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 21mm (0.70" to 0.82")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black, yellow, orange, red
Descriptors: flying, stripe, band, hover, flower, large, big,
Relative Size Comparison
Typical Size Between 18mm (0.7in) and 21mm (0.8in)
Lo: 18mm
Md: 19.5mm
Hi: 21mm
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
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Virginia Flower 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 Virginia Flower Fly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.

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