thick-legged hoverfly

(Syritta pipiens)

Conservation Status
thick-legged hoverfly
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed

     
  NatureServe

NNR - Unranked

SNR - Unranked

     
  Minnesota

not listed

     
           
           
 
Description
 
 

Thick-legged hoverfly is a small hoverfly. It is native to Europe but it has spread across the Northern Hemisphere. It was introduced into North America in the 1800s. It now occurs throughout the United States and southern Canada, and in northern Mexico. It is very common, one of the most common hoverflies in the world. It is common in Minnesota. Adults feed on the flowers of a wide variety of plants. They are found from mid-April to mid-November wherever these flowers occur. Larvae are found in wetlands near lakes, ponds, and rivers; and in compost, manure, and silage. They feed on decaying organic matter.

Adults are slender and long, ¼ to (6.5 to 9.5 mm) in length. They are wasp 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 bare, not covered with hair. On the male they meet at the top of the head. On the female they do not. The face is short and concave. It is not ridged (keeled). The antennae are short and have just three segments. The third segment is round. 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, is relatively long, and has three segments. There is light brown spot at each front corner of the first thoracic segment. 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. There are two gray, wedge-shaped marks on the front margin of the prescutum, just behind the head. There are no gray marks at the rear corners of the prescutum. The scutum and scutellum are unmarked. The scutellum has a thin outer edge and no fringe.

The abdomen is slender and long, narrower and about two times as long as the thorax. It is black with yellow spots and has five segments. The second and third segments have two rounded spots that do not meet in the middle. The fourth segment has a narrow, broken, white band at the front margin, and a narrow, unbroken, yellow band on the rear margin.

The wings are clear. There is a false vein (spurious vein) between the radius (R) and media (M) veins. The anal cell is long and is closed near the wing margin. The marginal cell is open. The R5, and M2 cells are closed.

The front and middle legs are mostly yellow. The third segment (femur) of the hind leg is greatly enlarged. This is the feature that gives the insect its common name. It is black with two pairs of rounded orange spots. It has a row of short spines below on the inner two-thirds, and a row of longer spines on the outer third. There is no peg near the base. The fourth segment (tibia) is mostly black with yellow at the base and a yellow ring in the middle.

 
     
 

Size

 
 

Total Length: ¼ to (6.5 to 9.5 mm)

 
     
 

Similar Species

 
     
     
 
Habitat
 
 

Wetlands, compost, manure, and silage

 
     
 
Biology
 
 

Season

 
 

Mid-April to mid-November

 
     
 

Behavior

 
 

 

 
     
 

Life Cycle

 
 

 

 
     
 

Larval Food

 
 

Decaying organic matter

 
     
 

Adult Food

 
 

Flowers of a wide variety of plants

 
     
 
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.

 
  1/14/2021      
         
 

Occurrence

 
 

Common in Minnesota

 
         
 
Taxonomy
 
 

Order

Diptera (gnats, mosquitoes, true flies)  
 

Suborder

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

Infraorder

Muscomorpha  
  No Rank Eremoneura  
  No Rank Cyclorrhapha (circular-seamed flies)  
  Section Aschiza  
 

Superfamily

Syrphoidea  
 

Family

Syrphidae (hover flies)  
 

Subfamily

Eristalinae  
 

Tribe

Milesiini  
  Subtribe Tropidiina  
 

Genus

Syritta  
       
 

 

 
       
 

Synonyms

 
 

Musca pipiens

Xylota proxima

 
       
 

Common Names

 
 

thick-legged hoverfly

 
       

 

 

 

 

 

Glossary

Arista

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

 

Femur

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

 

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.

 

Spurious vein

A longitudinal, thickened line between the radius and media veins. It resembles a true vein but is not connected to any other veins.

 

Tibia

The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.

 

 

 

 

 

       
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Alfredo Colon
       
  thick-legged hoverfly    
       
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Slideshows
   
  Syritta
Bill Keim
 
  Syritta  
 
About

Family: Syrphidae
Subfamily: Eristalinae
Tribe: Milesiini
Subtribe: Tropidiina
Genus: Syritta

- Syritta pipiens (Thick-legged Hover Fly)

 
     

 

slideshow

       
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Other Videos
 
  Hover Fly Syritta Pipiens
Fred Drake
 
   
 
About

Aug 14, 2020

Another Type Of Hover Fly in our Wildlife Meadow.

   
       
  Syritta pipiens (Linnaeus, 1758) ♂ - Cleaning time!
Marcello Consolo
 
   
 
About

Aug 16, 2015

Syritta pipiens cleaning time

   
       

 

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Alfredo Colon
8/4/2019

Location: Woodbury, MN

thick-legged hoverfly


     
     
 
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Created: 1/14/2021

Last Updated:

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