orange-legged drone fly

(Eristalis flavipes)

Conservation Status
orange-legged drone fly
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Orange-legged drone fly is common, hairy, medium-sized, hoverfly. It occurs throughout Canada and in the northern two-thirds of the United States. It is most abundant east of the Great Plains. It is common in Minnesota. Adults are found from mid-May to mid-October mostly in wetlands but also in a wide variety of other habitats. They feed on flower nectar.

Adults are robust and 716 to (11.0 to 16.1 mm) in length. They are bumble bee mimics.

The head is hemispherical and slightly broader than the thorax. There are two large compound eyes on the sides of the head and and three small simple eyes (ocelli) in a triangle on top of the head. The compound eyes are dark brown and are densely covered with short erect hairs. On the male they meet at the top of the head. On the female they do not. They are not spotted or banded. The face is black and shiny, and is not projected forward. The antennae are short and are inserted near the middle of the head. They are dark brown and have just three segments. At the base of the third segment there is a long, forward-pointing bristle (arista) on the upper side. The arista is bare, not feather-like (plumose). The protruding mouthpart (proboscis) is short and fleshy.

The thorax is black and has three segments. Each segment has four principal exoskeletal plates, one above, one below, and one on each side. The upper (dorsal) plates, from front to rear, are the prescutum, scutum, and scutellum. The prescutum is densely covered with yellow hairs. The hair is dense enough to completely obscure the base color. The scutum is black, shiny, and mostly bare but with dense yellow hairs on the lateral margins. The scutellum is yellow and densely covered with yellow hairs.

The abdomen is black and is densely covered with long erect hairs. It has five segments. The first segment is narrow and entirely black. The hair on the upper side of the basal third of the second segment is yellow, black, or more commonly a mix of the two colors. The hair on the upper side of the third segment and the outer two thirds of the second segment may be entirely black, yellow, or orange, or a mix of two or all three colors. The fifth segment is small and entirely black.

The wings are clear. There is a spurious vein between the radius (R) and media (M) veins. The R4+5 vein is deeply bent (sinuous), appearing “bumped” downward in the middle. The anal cell is long and is closed near the wing margin. The marginal, R1, R5, and M2 cells are also closed.

The legs are mostly black. On the hind leg, the last part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, is orange. This is the feature that gives the insect its common name.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: 716 to (11.0 to 16.1 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wetlands and a wide variety of other habitats

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Mid-May to mid-October

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

It makes a loud buzzing sound when flying.

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Larva Food

 
 

Small organisms

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flower nectar

 
     
 
Distribution
 
 

Distribution Map

 

Sources

24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.

Telford, Horace S.. (1939). The syrphidae of Minnesota. University of Minnesota. Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.

 
  1/8/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common in Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Diptera (gnats, mosquitoes, true flies)  
 

Suborder

Brachycera (circular-seamed flies, muscoid flies, short-horned flies)  
 

Infraorder

Muscomorpha (=Cyclorrhapha)  
  Zoosection Aschiza  
 

Superfamily

Syrphoidea  
 

Family

Syrphidae (hover flies)  
 

Subfamily

Eristalinae (drone flies and kin)  
 

Tribe

Eristalini (rat-tail maggot flies)  
  Subtribe Eristalina  
 

Genus

Eristalis (drone flies)  
  Subgenus Eoseristalis  
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Eristalis americanus

Eristalis melanostomus

Eristalis rufipilis

Musca tomentosa

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

orange-legged drone fly

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Arista

A large bristle on the upper side of the third segment of the antenna of a fly.

 

Ocellus

Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.

 

Proboscis

The protruding mouthpart(s) of a sucking insect.

 

Scutellum

The exoskeletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects. In Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, the dorsal, often triangular plate behind the pronotum and between the bases of the front wings. In Diptera, the exoskeletal plate between the abdomen and the thorax.

 

Scutum

The forward (anterior) portion of the middle segment of the thorax (mesonotum) in insects and some arachnids.

 

Tarsus

On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
Visitor Photos
 
           
 

Share your photo of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.
 
 

Alfredo Colon

 
    orange-legged drone fly      
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos
 
 

 

 
           
           

 

Camera

     
 
Slideshows
 
 
     
     
     

 

slideshow

       
 
Visitor Videos
 
       
 

Share your video of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach a video, a YouTube link, or a cloud storage link.
 
 

 

 
     
     
       
       
       
 
Other Videos
 
  BUMBLEBEE MIMIC FLY Eristalis flavipes foraging
Rob Curtis
 
   
 
About

Aug 20, 2019

Eristalis flavipes ORANGE-LEGGED DRONE FLY outstanding Bumbleee mimic foraging. Skokie Lagoons FP, IL 8/5/2019.

 
       

 

Camcorder

 
 
Visitor Sightings
 
           
 

Report a sighting of this insect.

 
  This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.
 
  Alfredo Colon
8/4/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

orange-legged drone fly  
           
 
MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings
 
 

 

 

 

 

Binoculars


Created: 1/8/2021

Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © 2021 MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.