eastern calligrapher

(Toxomerus geminatus)

Conservation Status
eastern calligrapher
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Sryphid flies are considered beneficial because they prey on insects that attack ornamental plants and crops. Eastern calligrapher is a common small syrphid fly. It occurs in North America east of the Great Plains and in adjacent Canadian provinces. It is one of the most abundant species of hover flies (Family Syrphidae), also called flower flies. It is very common in Minnesota.

Adults are ¼ to 5 16 (6.1 to 7.6 mm) in length. The coloration is an example of Batesian mimicry, resembling the warning coloration of stinging bees and wasps.

The back of the head is white. There are two large compound eyes, one on each side of the head, and three small simple eyes (ocelli) in a triangle at the top of the head between the compound eyes. The compound eyes are reddish-brown and are narrowly indented on the rear margin in the shape of a broad triangle. On the male the compound eyes meet near the top of the face. On the female they do not. On the male the face is white. On the female there is a dark, broad, vertical stripe on the white face extending from between the eyes to the antennae. The antennae are short and yellow.

The large, middle section of the thorax (mesonotum) is covered by a shield-shaped exoskeletal plate. The large, forward portion of the shield (scutum) is blackish-brown with faint, yellowish-brown, longitudinal stripes. It is hairless. On most Toxomerus species there is a very small yellow spot, called the supracoxal marking, on the side of the thorax just above the first segment (coxa) of the front leg. Supracoxal means “above the coxa”. This mark is present on all Toxomerus species except T. germinatus and T. boscii. Thin-lined calligrapher (T. boscii) does not occur in Minnesota. The smaller, rearward part of the shield (scutellum) is similarly colored but has yellow hairs. The shield has a well-defined yellow margin.

The abdomen is yellow with black stripes. The rear half of the third abdominal segment is mostly black. The tip of the abdomen is rounded in males, pointed in females.

On males, the third segment (femur) of the hind leg is bowed (arcuate).

The wings are clear.




Total Length: ¼ to 5 16 (6.1 to 7.6 mm)


Similar Species

  Wasps (Hymenoptera) have relatively long antennae.  

A wide variety of habits, including forests, fields, savannas, marshes, bogs, and fens




Late April to late October




Adults can often be seen hovering over plants, a favorite activity that gives this family one of it’s common names.

Syrphid flies do not bite or sting.


Life Cycle




Larva Food


Aphids and mites


Adult Food


Flower pollen and nectar


Distribution Map



7, 24, 27, 29, 30, 82.




Very common



Diptera (flies)  


Brachycera (circular-seamed flies, muscoid flies, short-horned flies)  
  Infraorder Cyclorrhapha  
  Zoosection Aschiza  




Syrphidae (hover flies)  


Syrphinae (typical hover flies)  




Toxomerus (calligrapher flies)  



Eumerus privernus

Scaeva geminatus

Syrphus interrogans

Toxomerus geminata

Toxomerus notatus


Common Names


eastern calligrapher










Referring to the upper surface or back of an insect.



On insects and arachnids, the third, largest, most robust segment of the leg, coming immediately before the tibia. On humans, the thigh bone.



The principal exoskeletal plate on the upper (dorsal) part of the middle segment of the thorax of an insect.



The exoskelletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects.



The exoskelletal plate covering the forward (anterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects.






Visitor Photos

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Babette Kis

    eastern calligrapher      

Alfredo Colon

    eastern calligrapher      
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos


    eastern calligrapher      



Toxomerus geminatus
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Toxomerus geminatus  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Flower Fly (Syrphidae:Toxomerus geminatus) Wasp Mimic
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Jun 12, 2011

Photographed at the Turtle River State Park, North Dakota (08 June 2011).

  Syrphid Fly (Syrphidae: Toxomerus geminatus) on Leaf
Carl Barrentine

Uploaded on Jul 8, 2010

Photographed at the Rydell NWR, Minnesota (07 July 2010).




Visitor Sightings

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  Babette Kis

Location: Barnes Prairie, Racine Co., WI

eastern calligrapher  
  Alfredo Colon

Location: Woodbury, MN

eastern calligrapher  
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings




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