Beneficial Besties: Hover Flies

You may see this garden friend and think “Bee!” but it is actually Hover fly, Allograpta oblique. The bright yellow and black bands make them look like wasps and help protect them from predators who will try to avoid a potential sting. An observant person can tell a hover fly from a wasp by counting wings (2 rather than 4) and examining the head, which looks like your average fly. 

This true fly is a true friend in the garden, hovering around in its zippy fashion, feasting on aphids, thrips, scale insects and caterpillars. The female strategically lays her white eggs near aphids. Once the tiny eggs hatch, the hover fly larvae begin to feed on the aphid colonies and can significantly reduce their numbers. In fact, the hover fly is as helpful as ladybugs or lacewings at controlling an aphid infestation. Once the larvae have had their fill, usually after several days, they build a cocoon and emerge after about ten days as an adult.

If that’s not enough to welcome them into the garden, Hover flies are also pollinators, feeding on nectar as they pollinate flowers. You cannot purchase hover flies but can certainly plant things that might attract them – marigolds, zinnia and various herbs will all beckon this beneficial bestie.