You’re Right: More Hover Flies Than Normal This Year

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We’ve heard from many of our viewers who have noticed an increase of a pesky insect.
 
It looks like a sweat bee, and is often mistaken as one, but in fact, it’s a hover fly. 
 
It doesn’t matter if its soybeans, corn or wheat. The agriculture environment, mixed with humid weather patterns have made the perfect living conditions for Hover flies. 
 
Just last year, the problem insects were gnats. 
 
Large plumps of gnats gathered in areas all over the Wabash Valley. Now, we’ve transitioned to another insect. 
 
“They’re all over us,” says Brad Burbink, a local farmer.  “Last year we had the gnats and this year we’ve got these hover flies that are swarming everywhere.”
 
Closely resembling a sweat bee, they are in fact different. 
 
It may be too close for comfort, but Hover flies only have one set of wings.
 
Sweat bees have two sets and also the main difference: a stinger.  
 
“We see them a lot in this weather when it’s hot and humid, because they need to be wet,” says Kevin Cross, agriculture science and business instructor at Sullivan High School. “So they come out when it’s really hot and it’s really humid. They kind of congregate around people when they are hot and sweaty because unlike a lot of insects, they need to have salt in their diet.”
 
While Hover flies are mainly harmless and just dart around, they do cause a sense of irritation, sometimes, too much to handle.  
 
“You know, especially when you have exposed skin where they can get to your sweat, they’re just. They’re just pretty annoying,” says Cross.
 
“Well let’s just hope they decide to move out of here soon,” says Burbrink.
 
Good news does come with the bad though. 
 
They are thickest around fields because they feed on pollen mainly corn pollen.
 
Once pollination stops in a few weeks and harvest draws near, their food source will diminish…And yes, so will the flies and by the first frost, we shouldn’t see much of them at all. 
 
Description of Hover Flies: 
  • Yellow and black striped bodies 
  • Two wings (1 set)
  • No stinger
  • Hovers or darts around a single area before landing, generally around corn fields 

Description of Sweat Bees:

  • Yellow and black striped bodies with a emerald metallic shimmer
  • Four winds (2 sets)
  • Stinger
  • Flies mostly around flowers for pollen 
Description of Yellow Jackets: 
  • Yellow and black striped body, looks similar to a wasp 
  • Four wings (2 sets)
  • Lance like stinger with barbs, can sting repeatedly if provoked 
  • Located mostly by their nests, high on terraces, barns, or outdoor buildings in rafters

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