Bees and butterflies are well-known pollinators, but thousands of fly species, like the drone fly in this photograph, also carry pollen among flowers, enabling plant reproduction. Perhaps the most important family of flies for pollination is Syrphidae, or hover flies, from which this small fly comes. Many of these mimic bees and wasps—an adaptation to protect against predators. Within this genus, some members look like honeybees; when in danger, they also produce an alarm sound like a honeybee’s buzz.

Hourglass drone flies were once common throughout much of northern North America, but they have nearly disappeared: one of the last records from the U.S. is from Michigan in the 1930s, and the fly is now limited to areas of northeastern Canada near Hudson Bay. An invasive fly species introduced from Europe in the late 1800s may have caused its decline. A warmer, drier climate may also have pushed the hourglass drone fly northward.

Hourglass drone fly
Eristalis brousii
About 0.45 inches (9–12.8 mm)
U.s. (possibly extinct); canada, manitoba: critically imperiled (natureserve)
Ecological Role
Pollinator as adult; decomposer as larva
AMNH Specimen Number
AMNH_IZC 00329561
Colorado, U.S.