Hoverfly vs Wasp, what´s the difference between them?

In the animal world, there are many that tend to look like one or another. Sometime, this is something useful for them as they “pretend” to be a more dangerous animal in case they do not have a good defence mechanism, and it really helps them to get away in life. There are bugs that take advantage of camouflaging with their environment and making sure other dangerous animals do not check them out.

One of these bugs is the hoverfly. Sometimes it is incredible how bugs resemble to each other, but when you see a hoverfly, the first thing that will come to your mind is a wasp. They are so alike but so different at the same time. We will learn about their differences and to know how to differentiate them, as they are experts in making birds and other animals think they are one of the most aggressive and dangerous insects: wasps.

Characteristics of a Hoverfly

You are thinking of what a hoverfly is since they look so like wasps. If you have not heard about them, they are the most important pollinators around the UK, tied with flies. They are found in Spring when flowers start to bloom.

Regarding appearance, as we have said before, they really look like wasps, but you need to learn how to separate them. The first thing that you will notice once you have seen a hoverfly is their eyes. They have huge eyes in comparison to their bodies, they are big and black. Males often have bigger eyes than females for them to spot them, so they can mate faster.

Their abdomen is flat and thin. They do not have a waist; their body is like a stick. Colours like bright yellow and black can be found in markings all around their bodies. These markings seem like wasps, but they are not as defined. They have more yellow around their bodies than black, it is orangish. With only one pair of wings, they can fly properly and when they want to rest, they form a V.

Hoverflies tend to be very calm, and they do not have stings, so it is not that they are going to chase you around to sting you since their main goal is to pollinate the flowers that are starting to bloom and feed from it. You might see them flying for a long time and, they can move through large areas, constantly searching for food.

Of course, when you talk about adult hoverflies, nectar is their main food, but remember that they go through a cycle, and they tend to change their diet. When they are larvae, they like to eat aphids, making them great allies when you want to control pests in your garden because of their diet. And when they become adults, they find pollen and nectar all around.

When they are in their larvae state, they live in still water waiting for parasites like aphids to eat and be able to develop. And adults just focus on flowers and their nectar. Sometimes, they can even occupy bumblebee nests to use it as a shelter.

Characteristics of wasps

After winter has come, wasps start to appear, being Summer their peak and going through all the various places to look for food. Once you see a wasp, you know that their abdomen is very thin with a small waist that connects their thorax with it. They look very scary, and their eyes are small, looking like a kidney. Unlike the hoverflies, they have two sets of wings, one bigger than the other, which helps them hover faster. Also, one of the scariest features they have is their sting. It is noticeably big and once they have stung you, you will feel pain. If you find a classic wasp, you will see that their colouration is yellow and black, however, this will always depend on the species because sometimes they can be orange or even red.

Their behaviour is straightforward, and all the species tend to act the same. Males are workers and forage food and the things the nest needs, and of course, the females are the ones bound to protect it with their stings, as they are the only ones that have it. They can be aggressive, so it is why it is recommended to leave them alone if you see them bouncing around, as it is their style of flight.

Its diet is different from hoverflies, as they tend to eat many things like meat, rotten fruit or fresh, among other things due to their omnivore nature. Larvae, on the other hand, tends to consume caterpillars for a correct development. When you see them lurking around flowers or fruit, do not go near them, or they will fight back.

The live all around the UK. You might see a lonely wasp when spring comes, as it is the sole queen who needs to find a place to stablish. They build their nests around trees, houses, basements, roofs, among others. It is quite common to find them around humans since they are called social insects, however, do not get too close to them.

Differences between wasps and hoverflies

We could say that hoverflies are peaceful, but wasps are not, as they tend to sting if they feel threatened and can cause grave consequences of the person that gets it. Their size is a mayor difference because hoverflies are smaller than wasps, although their diet seems to be the same since they like the same things as fruits and sometimes even parasites. It is quite common to find these animals lurking around flowers, but you will see hoverflies in one rather than a wasp due to nectar not being incredibly attractive to them.

If you find a bug near your home, and you are not certain whether it is a hoverfly or a wasp, try to peacefully leave it alone and avoid contact, you want to avoid getting an awful surprise by being stung.

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