Did you know?

Anyone who has tried to identify bees probably stumbled across the confusingly similar hoverflies and may have wondered what is so special about them. In the following, we want to take a closer look at the little helpers and present a DIY nesting opportunity for them.

Some hoverflies look confusingly similar to their fellow pollinators as wasps, bees, and bumblebees. This is because their mimicry protects them from predators who are afraid of their warning signs. There are about 450 species of hoverflies in Central Europe and over 6,000 worldwide. One of the most common species here is the Marmelade hoverfly. It can be found on umbellifers, buttercups, rose plants or lilies.

Experts regard hoverflies as the perfect fliers and are even more agile than dragonflies. Hence its name hoverfly, because it looks as if it is floating in the air. With 300 wing beats per second, they hover in the air like hummingbirds. They can maneuver in a flash and are just as fast backwards as forwards.

Their life cycle

The hoverfly not only looks like the bee, it is also as hard-working. Hoverflies are one of the most important pollinators, but that is not the only thing that makes them so special. The larvae of some species eat aphids. This makes the hoverfly, along with the ladybug, one of the natural pest controllers in our gardens. Nowadays, they are even bred by companies and used for biological pest control.

After fertilization the hoverfly lays several hundred tiny white eggs on plants that are densely covered with aphids. After hatching the larvae attack the lice and eat more than a thousand in the 8-11 days before their pupation. Other species lay their eggs in the nests of their mortal enemy like the German wasp. There the larvae eat the waste from the wasp nest and the offspring of their hosts.

The generation that hatches in late summer hibernates as an adult because it is weatherproof. On mild days the female comes out even from her hiding place. Others overwinter in warm North Africa and move with the migratory birds. With an average speed of 25 – 30 km/h, they reach their destination in just a few weeks. They return in spring and procreate here.

Distinguishing features

At first glance, some hoverfly species resemble a bee or a wasp. The graphic table shows how to identify the hoverfly correctly.

Some nifty doppelgangers are...

Volucella bombylans


Myathropa florea


Eristalis sp.


Nesting opportunity

If you want to create a little paradise for the European Hoverfly at home, you have come to the right place. The larvae of this hoverfly like it muddy. What is special about them is their breathing tube, which is several centimeters long and enables them to breathe out of the mud. The so-called rat-tail larvae can be found in heavily polluted puddles and cesspools. No other animal disputes this biotope and can that easily be raised at home.

Here you will find building instructions for the hoverfly lagoon summarized in a PDF file.

Furthermore, you can find here a video by Dave Goulson, a professor of bumblebees, who is explaning how to make an hoverfly-lagoon and how it works.