Flower-flies (also known as hover-flies) are a family of flies (Diptera), with the scientific name of “Syrphidae”.
As their names suggests, they are most often seen around flowers. The adults feed mainly on nectar and pollen, while the larvae (maggots) eat a wide range of foods. In certain species, the larvae are saprophytes, eating decaying plant and animal matter in the soil or in ponds and streams. In others, the larvae are insectivores and prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects. Aphids alone cause tens of millions of dollars of damage to crops worldwide each year and so aphid-feeding hover-flies are being recognized as important natural enemies of pests, and potential agents for use in biological control.
Some syrphids mimic bees or wasps in appearance, in some cases bearing an alarming resemblance both in shape and coloration. It is thought that this mimicry protects hover-flies birds and other insectivores which avoid eating true wasps because of their sting. Adult syrphid flies are important pollinators.
About 6,000 species in 200 genera have been described.