Hornet mimic hoverfly

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


Length: 2cm

Conservation status


When to see

May to October


At almost 2cm long, the hornet mimic 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.


Found in Southern England, but spreading north.

Did you know?

Many species of hoverfly mimic bees and wasps with their markings in order to gain some protection from predation. The hornet mimic hoverfly is also known as the 'belted hoverfly'.

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Red squirrel

Bertie Gregory/2020VISION

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