Zipperback Hoverfly

Fast Facts

Latin name: Chrysotoxum elegans

Notable feature: Yellow and black banding, mimicking a wasp. Quite long antennae compared to other hoverflies.

Conservation Status: Not Evaluated

Where in the UK: Coasts of Southwest England and South Wales. Chalk grasslands in East of England.

Zipperback Hoverfly (Chrysotoxum elegans) © Steven Falk

The Zipperback Hoverfly is a wasp mimic hoverfly, and adults fly between May and September. It is a Nationally Scare species of southern England, and its range and populations are thought to be declining. It is most frequently found around the coast of Southwest England and Southwest Wales. This species favours sunny south-facing coastal slopes, often in clearings among gorse and blackthorn scrub and can also be found on open coastal grassland. The larvae have not been found but are likely to be associated with ants.

  • Size: Wingspan 9.5 – 12 mm
  • Life span: 3-4 weeks for adults
  • Diet: Adults fly low and fast over low vegetation and visit flowers, including white umbels and buttercups Ranunculus sp. Larvae thought to feed on ant-attended root aphids.
  • Reproduction: Egg-larvae-pupae-adult. Not much is known about the reproduction of this species but it is assumed, due to possible association with ants, that females lay eggs near ant colonies.
  • When to see: Daytime – May to September
  • Population Trend: Declining
  • Threats: In decline due to the loss of coastal grassland to “agricultural improvement”, or lack of grazing management leading to increased bracken and scrub. Restoration of wildflower-rich grassland and scrub will support the recovery of this species.
  • Fun Fact: In short bursts, Hoverflies can reach speeds of 40 km per hour.

How you can help:

Buglife is working to increase awareness of invertebrates and the Zipperback Hoverfly through specific projects like Kernow Wyls – People for Pollinators, Life on the Edge, and campaigns but we need you help!

Join the Kernow Wyls – People for Pollinators project where there will be opportunities to help with surveying, monitoring and habitat conservation work. There is also information, advice and support available for landowners who would like to learn more about improving their land for pollinators.

Join a recording scheme and log your finds – send any records/sightings to the Hoverfly Recording Scheme or download the iRecord app and get recording!

Do remember that we rely on donations to continue our work. If you have searched, found and learnt about our incredible invertebrates on our website, please do consider Making a Donation, Becoming a Member or maybe even making a purchase in our shop. For more ideas on how to support our work find out how to Get Involved. Thank you 🕷