Beneficial Bug: The Hover Fly

Familiar garden predators like ladybugs and praying mantises often get all the credit for controlling bad bugs. Check out what this largely unsung backyard hero can do.
Related To:
Hoverfly

Hoverfly

What's not to like about an insect that eats harmful garden bugs and pollinates flowers?

When it's young, the hover fly feeds voraciously on soft-bodied insects like aphids, scale, thrips and caterpillars. The adult feeds on nectar and, in so doing, inadvertently moves pollen from flower to flower. As colony collapse disorder continues to decimate large numbers of honeybees, the hover fly has stepped up in importance as a backup pollinator.

Hoverfly on a Green Leaf

Hoverfly on a Green Leaf

This critter resembles a small bee, but it's a bona fide member of the fly family. It doesn't sting. Like flies, it has two wings rather than four. But unlike many other insects, it executes telltale aerial maneuvers: it can suspend flight in mid-air, then dart quickly backward, forward or sideways.

In spring you can often find the young adults visiting flowers and foliage. Avoid using pesticides — even insecticidal soaps — and you'll likely see more. It's good to have this insect patrolling your garden. As a significant pollinator and bad-bug eater, the hover fly is an especially good friend to anyone who grows vegetables and fruits.

Keep Reading

Next Up

Beneficial Insect: Braconid Wasps

Inside each of the little white cocoons on this targeted hornworm is a future garden-pest eating machine.

Beneficial Reptiles in the Garden

Find out how to encourage and work with these garden helpmates.

Gardening Q & A: Summer Snowflake Plant and More

Master gardener Paul James talks about pruning candles, cool plants, and no-hassle manure tea.

How to Garden in Just 15 Minutes a Day

No time to garden? Learn 10 easy tricks to multiply minutes in the garden.

Accessible Gardening Techniques

No matter what life throws at you, get back into the garden with these tricks and tools for elderly or disabled gardeners.

Community Gardens: What are the Rules of the Rows?

Community gardens can be great ways to grow food and improve your community. But certain behavior is expected. Learn more about community garden etiquette.

How to Be a Master Gardener

Become a plant boss and start the process of advancing your green education.

Extending the Gardening Season

Use these methods to stretch extra days and weeks out of your growing season.

The Best of Bamboo

There are two distinct categories of bamboo, and it makes a big difference which one you choose.

Seeing Seeds

Late-season seeds provide yet another reason to admire plants. Master gardener Paul James discusses a few of his favorites.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

On TV

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.