• Field Guide to the Syrphidae of Northeastern North America



This project started as a small Ontario based guide following the successful field guide format of the late Ian Carmichael and his former collaborators (Photo Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Southwestern Ontario, Photo Field Guide to the Butterflies of Southern Ontario, and Photo Field Guide to Some Caterpillars of Southern Ontario). It has been expanded to include all of the species of Syrphidae from Northeastern North America (414 species). This web site contains samples from the original Ontario guide. The guide will be published by Princeton University Press in March 2019.



This work is dedicated to the late Ian Carmichael in recognition of his work on Ontario natural field guides. Ian was involved in the conception of this project.



Jeff Skevington
F. Christian Thompson
Steve Marshall
Bill Crins
J. Richard Vockeroth


Other Contributors
Photographs: Robin McLeod, Jay Barnes, Lisa Bartels, Henri Goulet, Paul Pratt, Alf Rider, Jason Dombroskie


General Information on Syrphidae

Syrphidae (also known as flower flies or hover flies) are a diverse and important group of Diptera. One huge subfamily, the Syrphinae, are predominantly predators of aphids. As such, they are important natural regulators of aphid populations (many of them pests). The Eristalinae are an extremely varied group in terms of life histories. Some feed on dead and decaying organic matter (most Milesiini), some feed on dung (some Rhingiini and Milesiini), some eat fungi (some Rhingiini), some eat plants (most Rhingiini, Merodontini, some Brachyopini), some are predators (Pipizini), some are aquatic filter feeders (mainly Eristalini and some Brachyopini and Milesiini), and some are remarkably specialized inquilines in social insect nests (some Volucellini and Merodontini). Members of the only other subfamily, the Microdontinae, are all inquilines in the nests of social insects (mostly ants). Because of their diversity of feeding strategies as larvae and mimicry of wasps and bees that is common throughout adults in the family, this group is becoming a focus of many evolutionary ecology studies. Their conspicuous nature (many feed on flowers in gardens) has also made these flies a subject of attention of many interested amateur entomologists. The field guide and this web site will hopefully help fill the need for a simple and reliable identification tool for the family.


This page last updated on 25-Oct-2018
CNC Web pages development:
Dr. J.H. Skevington

Canadian National Collection of Insects, Arachnids and Nematodes
Home | Role | History | CanaColl | Units | Index