Also known as hoverflies and flower flies, this is an incredible group of insects. The adults often mimic bees or wasps but are harmless pollinators. You can best identify them by their “hovering” flight. If you can get close enough, make sure to count the wings. Two wings, and you’ve got a fly; four wings, and watch out—it’s a bee or wasp! The larvae are odd-looking insects: legless blobs with a tapered head. Their skin is generally opaque and see-though, showing their internal organs.
As mentioned earlier, the adults are pollinators that feed on nectar and pollen. The larvae, also known as “maggots,” feed on a variety of foods. Many are scavengers and detritivores, but several species are voracious predators! Those that are insectivores prefer feeding on nasty pests, such as aphids and thrips.
These are generally active during growing seasons, especially during the warmer months.
Worldwide, except in Antarctica.
Tomato flowers may attract adult hoverflies as well as any other nectaring plants nearby.
Having companion plants near your garden or crop will help attract hoverflies. Plants such as parsley, yarrow, and buckwheat are often used for this purpose. Make sure not to use pesticides, especially broad-spectrum chemicals. The adult females will lay eggs on the bottom of leaves and the larvae continue to use them for protection. Make sure you know what kind of insect eggs or larvae you have.
These are just awesome insects. Their mimicry is spot-on, and their flight behaviors are really cool to watch in the garden. The maggots may look gross, but just remember how helpful they are!