Adaptation and Identification

Hover flies carry a variety of adaptations that make them unique and allow them to fit into their ecological niche. Many of these adaptations are in regards to appearance and can be used to help identify members of each individual species.

One main adaptation unique to the genus Eristalis is that all members display some sort of batesian mimcry- an otherwise defenseless organism posing as another that is undesirable to predators. (Microscopy-UK 2007) In the case of Eristalis transversa the organism being mimicked is a honey bee; the threat of a nasty sting will keep most predators at bay.

While this seems like a fool proof mechanism, there is one flaw that allows hover flies to be easily distinguished. Bees and wasps have four wings (two pairs) where hover flies only have two (one pair). The reason for this is because the hover flies second pair of wings has been modified, over time, into a small structure used for in-flight balancing known as a halter. (Kaufman 2007) Upon further examination of the wing, another identifying feature becomes evident: hover flies have a false vein on each wing about midway up the wing that just tapers of and does not actually connect to anything. If one of these false veins is observed, the specimen is surely a hover fly. (Microscopy-UK 2007)

One very interesting and unique adaptation of hover flies is their ability to actively digest pollen and use its proteins in their own body, something not many insects or animals are capable of due to the exterior of a pollen particle which is very resistant to digestive enzymes. (Microscopy UK 2007)







For more detailed diagrams and photos of hover fly anatomy please visit: All about Hover Flies

How and what hover flies feed on: Nutrition