Hornet Mimic Hoverfly

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly ©Dave Riseborough

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly

Hornet Mimic Hoverfly ©Joan Burkmar

Hornet mimic hoverfly

Scientific name: Volucella zonaria
With black-and-yellow markings, the hornet mimic hoverfly looks like its namesake, but is harmless to us. This mimicry helps to protect it from predators while it searches for nectar.

Species information

Statistics

Length: 2cm

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

May to October

About

At almost 2cm long, the hornet mimic hoverfly (also known as the 'belted hoverfly') is the largest hoverfly species in the UK. As its name suggests, it is an excellent mimic of the hornet, but is harmless to humans. Only a very rare visitor to the country up to the 1940s, it has become more common in Southern England in recent years, and is still spreading northwards, perhaps as a result of climate change. It is particularly prevalent in urban areas. The adults are migratory and the larvae live inside wasps' nests.

How to identify

The hornet mimic hoverfly is mainly orangey-yellow on the abdomen, with dark bands and a dark brown thorax. It is our largest hoverfly. It can be distinguished from the hornet by its much larger eyes, broader body and the lack of a sting.

Distribution

Found in Southern England, but spreading north into the Midlands.

Did you know?

Many species of hoverfly mimic bees and wasps with their markings in order to gain some protection from predation.

How people can help

Many of our often-overlooked insects are important pollinators for all kinds of plants, including those which we rely on like fruit trees. The Wildlife Trusts recognise the importance of healthy habitats to support all kinds of species throughout the food chain, so look after many nature reserves for the benefit of wildlife. You can help too: volunteer for your local Wildlife Trust and you could be involved in everything from coppicing to craft-making, stockwatching to surveying.