August 15, 2023

Syrphidae identification resources

(focus Germany/Europe, Version auf Deutsch: Link unten auf der Seite)

  • Introduction (Natural History)

Schmid (1996): Auf gläsernen Schwingen. Schwebfliegen. Stuttgarter Beiträge zur Naturkunde. [German]
A short introduction to natural history with information on ecology and conservation, among other topics.

Rotheray, Graham and Gilbert, Francis (2011): The Natural History of Hoverflies. Forrest Text.
A detailed introduction to the characteristics, behavior, ecology and evolution of hoverflies.

  • Identification (Introduction)

Ball, Stuart and Morris, Roger (2013): Britain's Hoverflies. A field guide. Princeton University Press
Clearly laid out, provides a good way to identify genera and (at least) common/notable species with very good photographs and, in some cases, summary tables. 167 of the 283 species occurring in GB are presented, so there is a large overlap especially to northern Germany. Recommended, if you want to start with the identification of hoverflies! [it is based on Stubbs and Falk (2002), see further literature].

Bothe (1996): Schwebfliegen. Deutscher Jugendbund für Naturbeobachtung (DJN). [in German]
Intended as a field identification key, therefore of limited use for some genera, also somewhat outdated. Nevertheless (considering the limitations) a usable key (in German). The key has a focus on the veins on the wings for identification. Originally published together with color plates. Key and color plates can be borrowed from the DJN library

Schulten, André. Zweefvliegen van Nederland en België. Jeugdbondsuitgeverij, 2018 [in Dutch]
Intended as a field identification key, a combination of a key and species portraits, latter include photos and drawings, often with a side-by-side comparison of specific traits. Recommended, if you want to start with the identification of hoverflies!

Kormann, Kurt (2002): Schwebfliegen und Blasenkopffliegen Mitteleuropas. Fauna Verlag
Introduction to ecology and identification of some common hoverflies. Suitable as an introduction, especially if looking for a German-language work [but much less comprehensive than Ball and Morris (2013) or Schulten 2018, which offers a more detailed introduction and better presentation of characteristics relevant to identification].

Bastian, Olaf (1994): Schwebfliegen. Die neue Brehm-Bücherei.
Introduction to the ecology of hoverflies and identification key (for imagines and larvae!), but already outdated - the 1994 edition is an unchanged reprint of the 1st edition of 1986.

Rotheray, Graham (1993): Colour Guide to Hoverfly Larvae - Diptera, Syrphidae - in Britain and Europe. Dipterists Digest
Introduction to ecology and identification, identification key and color plates of hoverfly larvae. Free download here:

  • Identification (Advanced)

Van Veen, Mark (2004): Hoverflies of Northwest Europe. Identification keys to the Syrphidae. KNNV Publishing
Very good but partly a bit more complicated and rather not recommended for beginners; many species identifiable, with 500 species almost two thirds of the European species (which of course also means that the key is a bit more complicated, because in the identification process many species have to be excluded, which might not actually be worth considered). Not for the Alpine region (northwestern Europe only). [based on Van der Goot, which is based on Stachelberg; neither listed here].

Stubbs, Alan and Falk, Steven (2002): British Hoverflies. An Illustrated Identification Guide. British Entomological and Natural History Society.
Detailed key with large drawings, color plates of imagines, and genital plates for identification of more difficult groups (Cheilosia and Spaerophoria). In the key, -often spot features and other highly visible features are used. The 276 species known for GB at the time of publication of the book are determinable with the book.

Bot, Sander and Van de Meutter, Frank (2019): Veldgids Zweefvliegen. KNNV Uitgeverij [in Dutch]
Field identification book of the hoverflies of the Netherlands and Belgium. 384 species are presented, with description, ecology, distribution and very good pictures (With photos of males, switches and important details relevant for identification for each species). The book is in Dutch, but recommended even with no/low knowledge of Dutch, as it can be used like a small reference collection. The Key which is included uses macro-photos as well (instead of drawings).

Speight, M. (2011): Species Accounts of European Syrphidae (Diptera): Syrph the Net, the database of European Syrphidae.
Mapping of the European hoverfly species. From the Syrph the Net database also good up-to-date identification keys are available.

Bartsch, Hans (2009): Nationalnyckeln till Sveriges flora och fauna. Tvåvingar: Blomflugor (Volume 1: Syrphinae Volume 2: Eristalinae & Microdontinae).
Very good, large drawings for identification, summaries in English (otherwise in Swedish).

Hoverfly folder by Steven Falk on Flickr : Very well sorted gallery with good short introductory texts to genus and species and great photos:

List first published on the identification literature recommendation section on the website of the DJN: [Translated and edited]


Posted on August 15, 2023 03:18 PM by gerrit_oehm gerrit_oehm | 3 observations | 3 comments | Leave a comment