Syrphidae Page Index
Field Guide to Northeastern Nearctic Flower Flies (Diptera: Syrphidae)
Key to Nearctic Syrphid Genera
Checklist of Nearctic Syrphidae (including Common Names)
World Syrphidae Phylogeny
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.