yellow-shouldered drone fly

(Eristalis stipator)

Conservation Status
yellow-shouldered drone fly
Photo by Alfredo Colon
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNR - Unranked


not listed


Yellow-shouldered drone fly is a common, hairy, medium-sized hoverfly. It occurs throughout the United States and southern Canada but is most common in central and southwest United States. It is common in Minnesota. Adults are found from late May to mid-September. They feed on flower nectar.

Adults are robust, bee-like in appearance, and to ½ (10 to 13 mm) in length.

The head is hemispherical and slightly broader than the thorax. There are two large compound eyes on the sides of the head and and three small simple eyes (ocelli) in a triangle on top of the head. The compound eyes are dark brown and are densely covered with short erect hairs. On the male they meet at the top of the head. On the female they do not. They are not spotted or banded. The face is densely hairy and is not projected forward. The antennae are short and are inserted near the middle of the head. They are dark brown and have just three segments. The first and second segments are short. The third segment is flat and longest on the bottom, shorter and rounded on top. At the base of the third segment there is a long, forward-pointing bristle (arista) on the upper side. The arista is not feather-like (plumose). It often has a tight group of one to six short bristles on the upper side near the base, but is otherwise bare. Sometimes it is completely bare. The protruding mouthpart (proboscis) is short and fleshy.

The thorax is dark blackish-brown, shiny, unmarked, and densely covered with short, erect, buff-colored hairs. It has three segments. Each segment has four principal exoskeletal plates, one above, one below, and one on each side. The upper (dorsal) plates, from front to rear, are the prescutum, scutum, and scutellum. There is a convex swelling, called the posterior callus or postalar callus, on the upper rear corners of the scutum. All of the hair on the posterior callus and the scutellum is yellow. This is the feature that gives the insect its common name. The scutellum is not fringed.

The abdomen is black and is densely covered with short, buff-colored, erect hairs. It has five segments. The first segment is narrow and entirely black. The second segment has a broad yellowish band that is broken in the middle. The second, third, and fourth segments each have an inconspicuous, thin, white band at the front margin and a conspicuous, narrow white band on the rear margin. The third segment is shiny and black with no orange or yellow markings. The fourth segment has long white hairs on the rear third. The fifth segment is small and entirely black.

The wings are clear. There is a spurious vein between the radius (R) and media (M) veins. The R4+5 vein is deeply bent (sinuous), appearing “bumped” downward in the middle. The anal cell is long and is closed near the wing margin. The marginal, R1, R5, and M2 cells are also closed.

The legs are mostly black. The basal half of the fourth segment (tibia) of each leg is white or yellowish. The last part of the leg (tarsus), corresponding to the foot, is black.




Total Length: to ½ (10 to 13 mm)


Similar Species






Late May to mid-September






Life Cycle




Larva Food


Small organisms


Adult Food


Flower nectar


Distribution Map



24, 27, 29, 30, 82, 83.

Telford, Horace S.. (1939). The Syrphidae of Minnesota. University of Minnesota. Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station.




Common in Minnesota



Diptera (flies)  


Brachycera (circular-seamed flies, muscoid flies, short-horned flies)  


Muscomorpha (=Cyclorrhapha)  
  Zoosection Aschiza  




Syrphidae (hover flies)  


Eristalinae (drone flies and allies)  


Eristalini (rat-tail maggot flies)  
  Subtribe Eristalina  


Eristalis (drone flies)  
  Subgenus Eoseristalis  



Eristalis latifrons


Common Names


yellow-shouldered drone fly











A large bristle on the upper side of the third segment of the antenna of a fly.



Simple eye; an eye with a single lens. Plural: ocelli.



The tube-like protruding mouthpart(s) of a sucking insect.



The dark, blood-filled second cell at the leading edge of each wing toward the tip on many insects. It is heaver than adjacent, similar sized areas and is thought to dampen wing vibrations and signal mates. (= stigma. More precise than stigma but less often used, even by entomologists.)



The exoskeletal plate covering the rearward (posterior) part of the middle segment of the thorax in some insects. In Coleoptera, Hemiptera, and Homoptera, the dorsal, often triangular plate behind the pronotum and between the bases of the front wings. In Diptera, the exoskeletal plate between the abdomen and the thorax.



The forward (anterior) portion of the middle segment of the thorax (mesonotum) in insects and some arachnids.



On insects, the last two to five subdivisions of the leg, attached to the tibia; the foot. On spiders, the last segment of the leg. Plural: tarsi.



The fourth segment of an insect leg, after the femur and before the tarsus (foot). The fifth segment of a spider leg or palp.






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Alfredo Colon

    yellow-shouldered drone fly      








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Location: Woodbury, MN

yellow-shouldered drone fly  






Created: 1/7/2021

Last Updated:

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