Belongs to: hoverflies

Compare with: hornet-like hoverfly

Lesser hornet hoverfly Volucella inanis

Best time to see: early Jul to mid Sep

Key facts

A large hoverfly looking like a tubby wasp

Habitat: suburban areas, especially around outer London, parks and open woods

Distributed across south-east England, and has been spreading north into the Midlands in recent years


Similar to the hornet-like hoverfly, but smaller and tubbier and with yellow rather than chestnut bands

Body up to 17mm; wingspan up to 15mm

Feed on thistles, heather and buddleia


The female crawls cautiously into wasp nests to lay its eggs

The developing hoverfly larvae feed on debris within the nest, and perhaps for that reason are tolerated by their hosts

They pupate in the ground below the nest and emerge the following spring

  • photo

© Tony Gunton