There are over 280 species of hoverfly in Britain with total of 72 species discovered in the Dawlish Warren Recording Area. It is anticipated that more species will be added in coming years.  The peak time is between May and August when over 20 species can be found without difficulty.  It is hoped that the following information will help in finding and recording hoverflies on site. Please submit any sightings to the Recording Group and/or Devon Biodiversity Records Centre.

Some hoverflies cannot be identified with certainty without taking a specimen for examination, Teignbridge Council have unfortunately refused permission for the Recording Group to take specimens. The majority of these species have therefore been identified in the field or by using digital photography, some have however been confirmed from specimens taken by visiting dipterists.

Further information on identification and status can be found in Britain’s Hoverflies by Stuart Ball & Roger Morris and British Hoverflies: An Illustrated Identification Guide by Alan Stubbs & Steven Falk.

Summary and photos by Recording Group member Alan Keatley.

Related links: Dipterist's Forum  Hoverfly Recording Scheme 

Last update Dec 2020.


Baccha (Gossamer Hoverflies). One British species with a distinctive elongated abdomen.

Baccha elongata (Gossamer Hoverfly). Shaded or semi-shaded areas in low vegetation, especially nettles. Entrance Bushes near the First Pond is a favoured area. Common between April and October in low numbers with a peak in May/June.

Melanostoma (Grass Hoverflies). Small grassland species.

Melanostoma mellinum (Short Melanostoma). Numerous in meadows and woodland edges, especially common in late Summer. Often lands on grass stems.

Melanostoma scalare (Slender Melanostoma). More likely to be seen in wooded areas than M.mellinum. Very common and widespread on site with a long flight period, recorded from March through to October.

Platycheirus (Big-handed Hoverflies). Small, slim grassland hoverflies, very similar to Melanostoma. Identification in the field difficult in some species, but some males can be identified by structure of forelegs and abdominal pattern.

Platycheirus albimanus. The commonest Platycheirus on site favouring meadows in particular Greenland Lake and Back Meadow. Can be seen in numbers. The grey spotted females can be readily identified. Long flight season from March to October.

Platycheirus angustatus. Only one record to date. Mid Summer is the peak time favouring damp meadows with sedge.

Platycheirus clypeatus. No recent records, and similarities to other Platycheirus species makes it difficult to identify in the field. Nationally it is a common species so is most likely overlooked on site.

Platycheirus fulviventris. A brightly coloured orange species with a single record. Favours edges of ponds and damp meadows in mid Summer. Nationally common and widespread.

Platycheirus peltatus. Few recent records, but best confirmed by specimen. Widespread in lowland Britain, especially meadows, woodland rides and open scrub. 

Platycheirus rosarum. A few recent records. Easier to identify than most in this genus, with a distinctive abdominal pattern. Peaks mid Summer. Edges of ponds.

Platycheirus scutatus. Several recent records and common on site in scrubby areas with bramble. March to September.

Paragus (Pygmy Hoverflies). Small black fly mimics that fly close to the ground.

Paragus haemorrhous (Common Pagarus). Tiny black hoverflies, common in sunny dry open areas like the Dune Ridge and Warren Point. Sharing flowers with other small hoverflies for instance Sphaerophoria species. Mainly June to August.

Chrysotoxum (Wasp Hoverflies). Large attractive wasp mimics with long antennae.

Chysotoxum bicinctum (Two-banded Wasp Hoverfly).  No recent records, but is regarded as a common species in Southern England, mainly mid Summer.

Chrysotoxum festivum (Hook-banded Wasp Hoverfly). First recorded in June 2019, with several sightings since, suggesting a regular occurrence in low numbers. Woodland edges in mid Summer.

Xanthogramma (Dayglow Syrphs).

Xanthogramma citrofasciatum (Barred Anthill Hoverfly). A single record in August 2018. Found in short grassland with ant nests.

Xanthogramma pedissequum (Superb Anthill Hoverfly). Regularly seen in and around meadows from May to August. Often resting on leaves.

Sphaerophoria (Twist-tailed Hoverflies). Long bodied small black and yellow hoverflies. Most species cannot be safely identified in the field.

Sphaerophoria interrupta (Interrupted Tubetail). A common and widespread grassland species, but not identifiable in the field.

Sphaerophoria rueppelli (Rueppell’s Tubetail). First recorded in August 2018, with a few records since. A short bodied species of open grassland.

Sphaerophoria scripta (Common Tubetail). With its long abdomen, by far the commonest and most recognised tubetail. A long season with numbers boosted by migrants. Can be very numerous throughout the site at times of high insect migration.

Dasysyrphus (Hairy-eyed Syrphs). Bold yellow and black wasp mimics

Dasysyrphus albostriatus (Striped-backed Dasysyrphus). Mainly woodland. Two generations in Spring and late Summer/early Autumn and both generations seen on site in low numbers.

Dasysyrphus venustus (Broad-banded Dasysyrphus) Single record in April 2019. A woodland species with only a Spring generation.

Didea (Dip-veined Syrphs).

Didea fasciata (Pale-knobbed Didea). Single record in May 2019. Woodland edges.

Scaeva (Glass-winged Syrphs).

Scaeva pyrastri (White-clubbed Hoverfly). A Summer migrant species seen in variable numbers. Can occur anywhere on site including recent mass arrivals on seawall and Dune Ridge.

Eupeodes (Field syrphs). Migratory species in varying numbers.

Eupeodes corollae (Migrant Field Syrph).  Common species with long flight season, a migrant, peaking mid Summer. Flower meadows.

Eupeodes latifasciatus (Meadow Field Syrph). A single record in August 2019. A species of damp meadows.

Eupeodes luniger (Common Spotted Field Syrph). The commonest Eupeodes species with a long flight season. Has been seen in January on site, but main peak for migrants is late Summer. As a migrant can occur anywhere on site.

Meliscaeva (Long-winged Syphaniods). Small woodland black and yellow species.

Meliscaeva auricollis (Spotted Meliscaeva). Has a long flight period, peaking in late Summer. There was a January record in 2019.  Numerous on site but numbers vary from year to year.

Episyrphus (Wandering Syrphs). Very numerous migratory species.

Episyrphus balteatus (Marmalade Hoverfly). This highly migratory species can number in hundreds across the site at its peak in mid Summer. Lower numbers can be seen at other times, with records in every month.

Epistrophe (Neat-banded Syrphs). Brightly banded.

Epistrophe diaphana (Pale-sided Epistrophe) A sole record from 2009.  It is expanding its range from the South East, so may occur again. Visits umbellifers.

Epistrophe eligans (Spring Epistrophe). March to May in sheltered woodland areas. First recorded in May 2018 with numerous sightings since then. 

Epistrophe grossulariae (Broad-banded Epistrophe). Woodland edges of Greenland Lake and Back Meadow in small numbers in mid Summer. First recorded in August 2019.

Parasyrphus (Forest Syrphs).

Parasyrphus punctulatus (Six-spotted Parasyrphus). A single undated record. A widespread and frequent spring-flying species visiting the blossom of sallow & Blackthorn.

Syrphus (Hairy-flapped Syrphs). The common ‘typical banded hoverfly’.

Syrphus ribesii (Humming Syrphus). One of the most numerous banded hoverflies from Spring to Autumn. Can be seen anywhere on site, but has a preference to flower meadows.

Syrphus torvus (Hairy-eyed Syrphus). Less common than S.ribesii, and appears earlier in the year, one of the first hoverflies to appear in Spring. Can be seen on early Spring flowers like Alexanders.

Syrphus vitripennis (Glass-winged Syrphus). A common species with numbers boosted by migrants. Similar habitat to other Syrphus species.

Cheilosia (Vegan Hoverflies). A large group of similar looking “black fly” hoverflies. Some species can be identified by subtle differences in face profile, leg and antennae colour, but many require a specimen.

Cheilosia albitarsis (Late Buttercup Cheilosia) A single record from May 2019, a Spring species with yellow and black front tarsus and strongly associated with buttercups. Probably common on site but care is needed to identify.

Cheilosia bergenstammi (Ragwort Cheilosia). Single record from 2009. Spring generation is often found on Dandelion, and summer generation on Ragwort.

Cheilosia griseiventris (Grey-vented Cheilosia). There is an undated record of this species. It is widespread in southern England on grassland and dunes. Associated with hawkbits.

Cheilosia grossa (Large Spring Cheilosia). First found in March 2018 near car park. An early Spring species associated with thistles and nectaring on sallows. Males defend territories by hovering at or above head height. Basks on fencing to warm up.

Cheilosia illustrata (Bumblebee Cheilosia). More distinctive than most Cheilosia species, with a vague hairy bumblebee appearance. Relatively common on site and can be found on Hogweed in late Spring and Summer.

Cheilosia impressa (Small Burdock Cheilosia). Common on site from May to August on umbellifers in sheltered woodland.

Cheilosia pagana (Parsley Cheilosia) Another common species on umbellifers. Sheltered sunlit areas of woodland edges in Dead Dolphin wood and Entrance Bushes. April to August.

Cheilosia proxima (Common Thistle Cheilosia) . Common on site in July and August on umbellifers. Larvae associated with Creeping Thistle. 

Cheilosia scutellata (Dark-horned Truffle Cheilosia). First discovered on site in July 2019. A regular umbellifer visitor in Mid Summer. Sheltered sunlit areas in woodland.

Cheilosia variabilis (Figwort Cheilosia).  First discovered on site in June 2019. A large black Cheilosia, often basks on sunlit low growing vegetation alongside woodland edges.

Cheilosia vernalis (Yarrow Cheilosia) A small Cheilosia species. First discovered on site in 1982, was not recorded again until September 2019. Presumably present and overlooked in low numbers.

Neoascia (Waisted Marsh-hoverflies). Narrow waisted, tiny black hoverflies. 

Neoascia podagrica (Smudge-veined Neoascia). Only one undated record. It is a common widespread species in a range of habitats with a long flight season . Probably overlooked on site.

Chrysogaster (Dull Marsh-hoverflies). Small black hoverflies. Males have red eyes.

Chrysogaster solstitialis  (Dark- winged Chrysogaster). A mid Summer visitor to umbellifers. Common but overlooked. Can be seen with Cheilosia species on same flowers.

Lejogaster (Green Marsh-hoverflies). Small with a metallic sheen.

Lejogaster metallina (Green Marsh Hoverfly). Only record dates from August 1982. Found in damp grassland and visits yellow flowers like buttercups. Possibly overlooked amongst other small black hoverflies.

Eristalis (Drone flies). Bee mimic hoverflies representing some of the most abundant species.

Eristalis arbustorum (Plain-faced Dronefly). Frequent but not as common as other Eristalis on site. Mainly June to August in flower meadows.

Eristalis horticola (Striped-winged Dronefly). Common in flower meadows and woodland edges in mid Summer amongst other Eristalis.

Eristalis intricarius (Furry Dronefly). A bumblebee mimic, seen between April and August. Favouring willows in Spring and low growing flowers in Summer.

Eristalis nemorum (Striped-faced Dronefly). Common and numerous in flower meadows. Often seen in groups with males hovering over females. Mainly May to August.

Eristalis pertinax (Tapered Dronefly). Very common between March and September. Appears in early March on salows and can be found across the site.

Eristalis tenax (Common Dronefly). Abundant and can be found anywhere on site. Can be seen as early as January, most numerous in late Summer and Autumn. Last sighting usually in November, but recorded in all months.

(Spotty-eyed Drone flies). Fly mimics.

Eristalinus sepulchralis (Small Spotty-eyed DroneFly). More fly like than Erastalis. Flower meadows and bramble. Not uncommon on site, but less numerous than other drone flies. May to August.

Myathropa (Painted Drone flies). Only UK species large with an unique thorax pattern.

Myathropa florea (Batman Hoverfly) Common from May to September in flower meadows. Seen with drone flies on flowers or basking on leaves.

Helophilus (Tiger Hoverflies). Conspicuous striped hoverflies.

Helophilus hybridus (Marsh Tiger Hoverfly).  Commonly seen in mid Summer in flower meadows.

Helophilus pendulus (Tiger Hoverfly). The commonest tiger hoverfly, abundant at times with a long flight season from April to October. Can be seen almost anywhere on site.

Helophilus trivittatus (Large Tiger Hoverfly). One of the largest hoverflies and brightly coloured. Not uncommon, a migratory species with a variation in numbers between June and September.

Merodon (Large Bulb flies). A bumblebee mimic.

Merodon equestris (Large Narcissus Bulb Fly). Last recorded in 2010. Adults can be seen from April to September peaking during May and June. The larvae develop in daffodil bulbs, these have been largely removed so is perhaps unlikely to reappear on site.

Eumerus (Lesser Bulb flies). Small dark hoverflies, larvae develop in bulbs.

Eumerus strigatus (Rural Bulb Fly). First recorded in September 2020, but possibly overlooked. Yellow iris, is the presumed larval plant on site.

Pipizella (Root Aphid Hoverflies). Small black hoverflies.

Pipizella viduata (Common Pipizella). A single undated record, Pipizella hoverflies have been recorded on site recently but specimens are required to confirm identification. Woodland edges basking on leaves or bare ground. May to July.

Sericomyia (Peat Hoverflies). Large wasp or bumblebee mimics.

Sericomyia silentis (Yellow-barred Peat Hoverfly). First recorded in September 2019 with three sightings in 2020. A widespread and mobile species. June to September. Breeds in wet peat so presumed migrant to the Warren.

Volucella (Ray-horned Hoverflies). Largest hoverflies, bumblebee or hornet mimics.

Volucella bombylans (Bumblebee Hoverfly) . Realistic bumblebee mimic in two colour forms. Common on site mainly end of April to end of July. Near bumblebee nests, basking on leaves.

Volucella pellucens (Large Pied Hoverfly). Common around and in woodland defending sunlit areas. Hovers above head height. Mainly May to August.

Volucella inanis (Lesser Hornet Hoverfly). First seen in August 2019 entering a social wasp nest, with several sightings since. Woodland edges in vicinity of wasps nests. Late Summer.

Volucella zonaria (Hornet Hoverfly). Impressive looking, Britain’s largest hoverfly. Common on site. Visits flowers near wasps nests. Mainly June to September.

Syritta (Darting Hoverflies). Small, narrow built with enlarged hind legs.

Syritta pipiens. Very common and abundant in Summer months. Long flight season. Can be seen anywhere on site.

Tropidia (Swamp Hoverflies). Found close to reed beds.

Tropidia scita (Tooth-thighed Hoverfly).  One record in May 2019 near First Pond. Associated with common reed. 

Chalcosyrphus (Wet-forest Hoverflies).

Chalcosyrphus nemorum (Small Forest Hovefly). One record from 2009, Associated with wet sallow and Alder woodland, the larvae develop under the bark of logs and fallen trunks.

Xylota (Woodpile Hoverflies). Seen on leaves rather than flowers.

Xylota segnis (Orange-belted Hoverfly). First recorded in May 2019. On leaves collecting pollen and honeydew.

Xylota sylvarum (Golden-tailed Hoverfly).  Recorded in May 2019 with another sighting in July 2020. To be looked for on leaves in woodland bushes.

              Back                   Home