Belongs to: hoverflies

Marmalade hoverfly Episyrphus balteatus

Best time to see: May to Oct

Key facts

A small hoverfly, orange with a distinctive pattern of black bands, looking like a tiny wasp

Widespread and very common both in gardens and natural areas

Most years numbers are increased by swarms of immigrants from the continent


Orange abdomen, tapering slightly, with a pattern of narrow black bands; transparent wings

Male hoverflies' eyes join on top of their head, whereas the females' eyes are separated

Up to 15mm long


Males establish and defend territories and hover over them to attract females, who lay eggs on plants with aphid colonies

After hatching the larvae seek out and eat large numbers of aphids – up to 200 each – and sometimes their own kind as well

Sometimes there are two generations per year, one in spring from overwintering adults and another in summer

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© Tony Gunton