Hoverfly vs. Wasp

Differences Between Hoverfly and Wasp

It’s the season of flying and crawling annoying insects. Now you can see bees, wasps and other flying insects that look like wasps to fly over. Well, you might happen to spot a fake wasp which is often confused with the well-known stinging insect. 

The fly that looks like a wasp is called a hoverfly. In this article, we will identify both insects and outline the main differences between them.

Hoverfly Identification

Hoverflies known as flower flies are part of the insect family Syrphidae. They are considered to be the most important pollinator among the flies. There are about 250 species of hoverflies in Great Britain. Let’s take a look at their appearance, behaviour and other characteristics that distinguish them from wasps.


  • Antennae: short and thick
  • Eyes: big and round. Some males have way larger eye so that they can spot the females easily 
  • Wings: only one pair of wings, they are broad, smooth tinting. When hoverflies are resting the wings have a V shape. 
  • Abdomen: unlike wasps, hoverflies don’t have well-defined waist
  • Colouration: bright yellow and black markings


  • Sting: Hoverflies don’t sting at all
  • Flight: they can hover very well and can stay still in the air for a long time and then start flying again.
  • Diet: Hoverflies include different things in the different stages of their lifecycle. For example, during larval stage they eat aphids and when they reach the adult stage they start looking for pollen and nectar. This makes them great pollinators in many flowering plants and great pest control in the garden as they feed on aphids.


Different species can be found in different locations. The hoverfly larvae usually live around standing water close to aphids and other parasites. While adults hover around flowers which are their main source of food. Others can occupy wasp or bumblebee nests. Also, trees and composts can be a great shelter for hoverflies.

Check also:
Differences Between Wasps, Bees and Hornets and How to Identify Them


Wasps are one of the most vicious stinging insects in the UK. During summertime, they are everywhere circling around looking for food. So let’s take a look at their characteristics and how they differ from the hoverflies.


  • Antennae: longer and thinner
  • Eyes: way smaller, shaped like a kidney
  • Wings: they have two pairs of wings. The front wings are larger than the back one.
  • Abdomen: wasps have a well-defined waist which connect the thorax and abdomen.
  • Colouration: may differ depending on the species from red-orange to the classic yellow and black lines.

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  • Sting: only the queen wasp and the female’s sting
  • Flight: they have a specific bouncing up and down a flight
  • Diet: wasps are considered to be scavengers, hunters and omnivores. During the larval stage they consume caterpillars. Adults on the other hand can feed on rotting or fresh fruit, nectar and even meat.


Wasps are very common in Britain. They usually build their own nests hanging from trees, roofs, other buildings and constructions, bushes, etc. Wasps are social insects and often can be found nearby where humans live.

Check also:
How to Get Rid of a Wasp’s Nest


In conclusion, wasps have several insects that look like them and can trick you at first sight. But there are few obvious differences between them that you have to look for. 

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