Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods) ➔ Subphylum Hexapoda (Hexapods) ➔ Class Insecta (Insects) ➔ Order Diptera (True flies) ➔ Family Syrphidae (Hoverflies)

Volucella zonaria (Poda, 1761)

Hornissenschwebfliege Hornet Mimic Hoverfly

Synonyms and other combinations:

Conops bifasciatus Scopoli, 1763 | Musca valentina Müller, 1766 | Syrphus bifasciatus Panzer, 1792 | Volucella beckeri Goot, 1961 | Volucella fasciata Herrich-Schaffer, 1829 | Volucella fasciata Verrall, 1901 | Volucella radicum Schrank, 1803 |

  • Volucella zonaria, female  466
    Volucella zonaria (Poda, 1761)  Hornissenschwebfliege  Hornet Mimic Hoverfly 
    Volucella zonaria, female
    BG, Naturpark Zlatni Piassatzi; 2008-08-30 11:18:17
    Image number: 466
    BG, Naturpark Zlatni Piassatzi
    2008-08-30 11:18:17

  • Volucella zonaria, female  3990
    Volucella zonaria (Poda, 1761)  Hornissenschwebfliege  Hornet Mimic Hoverfly 
    Volucella zonaria, female
    BG, Russalka; 2010-08-10 16:59:28
    Image number: 3990
    BG, Russalka
    2010-08-10 16:59:28

Volucella zonaria belongs to the subfamily Eristalinae, tribe Volucellini.
From Poland south to the Mediterranean (including islands) and North Africa; from Britain (southern England) eastwards through central and southern Europe (Italy, the former Yugoslavia, Greece) into Turkey and European parts of Russia and on through Siberia to the Pacific; Iran; Mongolia.
Forest/open ground, often in parks and gardens.
Large hoverfly with a body length of 18 - 22 mm; thorax glossy reddish brown; abdomen black with reddish yellow horizontal stripes on tergits 2 and 3; abdominal segment 4 completely yellow.
In rare cases the thoracic dorsum may also be black and the light band on the third segment may be reduced to 2 small, lateral spots.
The Hornet Mimic Hoverfly Volucella zonaria flies in one generation from mid of June to November. This species which is widespread especially in southern Europe is one of the expansive migrants.
The males hover in sunny and sheltered areas some meters above the ground. Adults visit for feeding on nectar and pollen the flowers of many different plants, such as Achillea, Buddleja, Carduus, Centaurea, Cirsium, Clematis, Hedera, Knautia, Ligustrum, Rosa canina, Rubus, Sambucus, Solidago, Thymus... .
The saprophagous larvae of Volucella zonaria develop in nests of social wasps above and below ground. Larvae of the species were found in nests of the German Wasp, the Common Wasp and of hornets. They live at the bottom of the nest and feed on waste and dead host larvae. For pupation the Volucella larvae leave the wasp nest.

References, further reading, links:
  1. Pape T. & Thompson F.C. (eds) (2017). Systema Dipterorum (version 2.0, Jan 2011). In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life, 2017 Annual Checklist (Roskov Y., Abucay L., Orrell T., Nicolson D., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., DeWalt R.E., Decock W., De Wever A., Nieukerken E. van, Zarucchi J., Penev L., eds.). Digital resource at Species 2000: Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands. ISSN 2405-884X.
  2. Gerald Bothe: Bestimmungsschlüssel für die Schwebfliegen (Diptera, Syrphidae) Deutschlands und der Niederlande, DJN, 1984, ISBN 3-923376-07-3
  3. M.C.D.Speight: Species Accounts of European Syrphidae (Diptera), Glasgow 2011, Syrph the Net, the database of European Syrphidae, vol. 65, 285 pp., Syrph the Net publications, Dublin.
  4. Menno Reemer, Willem Renema, Wouter van Steenis, Theo Zeegers, Aat Barendregt, John T. Smit, Mark P. van Veen, Jeroen van Steenis, Laurens van der Leij: De Nederlandse Zweefvliegen (Diptera: Syrphidae), Nederlandse Fauna 8, 2009.
  5. Speight, M.C.D. & Sarthou, J.-P. (2014) StN keys for the identification of the European species of various genera of Syrphidae (Diptera) 2014 / Clés StN pour la détermination des espèces Européennes de plusieurs genres des Syrphidae (Diptères) 2014. Syrph the Net, the database of European Syrphidae, Vol. 80, 125 pp, Syrph the Net publications, Dublin