Milesia virginiensis

Yellow-jacket Hover Fly / Virginia Flower Fly

Milesia virginiensis, Syrphid Fly


Family: Syrphidae

Subfamily: Eristalinae

Length: males 14-24 mm; females 20-22 mm

Wing length: males 11-15 mm; females 16-17 mm


Traits of the adult to watch for include: a completely yellow face; yellow to light brown antennae; yellow femora and tibiae, with the tarsi somewhat darker. Wings cloudy but unpatterned, typically darker at the apical end.

These loud flies are Yellow-jacket mimics. Though completely harmless, their buzz can be quite intimidating. It should be added that this loud buzz is very un-yellow-jacket-like!

Eaton and Kaufman (2007) tell us "This is the 'news bee' of folklore, named for its occasional habit of hovering in front of a person and 'giving them the news.'"

Milesia virginiensis, Yellow Jacket Hover Fly imageMilesia scutellata is very similar, and can only be reliably separated from Milesia virginiensis by an expert with a dissecting kit. Fortunately for West Virginians, Milesia scutellata is found only to the south of the Mountain State, with records from North Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana.

Maier and Waldbauer (1991) report that Milesia virginiensis pursues a dual mating strategy, with males seeking females at flowering plants early in the morning, and then moving their quest to the oviposition sites (areas with appropriate decaying material for the larvae to feed on) by late morning.


Milesia virginiensis, head-on view, Syrphid Fly

Insects of West Virginia