The Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) is one of the largest and most impressive flies in Britain. The hoverfly looks like a dangerous, stinging hornet but is actually harmless. This mimicry helps keep predators such as birds away. This fly can be seen in September so keep your eyes peeled.
Hornet Hoverfly (Volucella zonaria) © Chris Raper
The larva of the hornet hoverfly can live happily in the nests of social wasps without getting stung! The hoverfly larva eats the debris and rubbish in the wasp nest and in return the wasps have a free cleaner. This type of relationship where one species benefits and the other is unaffected is called commensalism or symbiosis.
This spectacular fly first colonised Britain in the early 1940s, and was once regarded as rare. Since then it has become well established in London and the South and South East of England. As the climate warms the fly is heading north and has now been recorded in Cheshire. If you think you have seen a hornet hoverfly please click here.