Platycheirus scambus


Species Biology

Preferred environment

Wetland; fen, including coastal fen and river margins; salt-marsh. P. scambus is a syrphid of tall, dense reed-bed type vegetation, and occurs in Ireland in all wetland types from saltmarsh (where it occurs with Spartina beds) and coastal lagoons to flushes in blanket bog. It can occur with tall herb vegetation like Iris beds, in addition to tall grasses and sedges, and may be found where tall marginal vegetation occurs along the edges of rivers, pools or lakes, away from strictly wetland situations. This is not a species of forest, conifer plantation or the standard farm landscape of green fields and hedges. Neither does it occur in suburban gardens.

Adult habitat & habits

Flies among tall emergent and water margin vegetation, characteristically within a few metres of standing or slow-moving oligotrophic or mesotrophic water; males hover up to 3m, beside Salix bushes etc. close to water.

Flight period

End May/mid July and August/September. Larva: described and figured by Rotheray (1988a).

Flowers visited

Carex, Ranunculus, Schoenoplectus, Scirpus lacustris, Spartina, Urtica dioica.

Irish reference specimens

In the collections of NMI and UM


Speight and Goeldlin (1990), Haarto and Kerppola (2007a) and Bartsch et al (2009a). The adult insect is illustrated in colour by Stubbs and Falk (1983), Torp (1984, 1994), van der Goot (1986) and Bartsch et al (2009a).


World distribution(GBIF)

From Fennoscandia south to central France; from Ireland eastwards through northern and central Europe to European parts of Russia and on to the Pacific coast (Sakhalin); in N America from Alaska to Quebec and south to California. It is frequent in northern Europe, but further south becomes confined to lakeside reed beds and alluvial wetlands on the floodplains of major rivers. It ranges widely beyond Europe, through Asiatic parts of the Palaearctic and in the Nearctic.

Irish distribution

 Recorded as occurring in Ireland in Coe (1953). P. scambus is widely distributed and not threatened, in Ireland.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.



Speight, M. C. D. (2008) Database of Irish Syrphidae (Diptera). Irish Wildlife Manuals, No. 36. National Parks and Wildlife Service. Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Dublin, Ireland.

Speight, M.C.D. (2014) Species accounts of European Syrphidae (Diptera), 2014. Syrph the Net, the database of European Syrphidae, vol. 78, 321 pp., Syrph the Net publications, Dublin.