Epistrophe eligans


Species Biology

Preferred environment

Most types of deciduous forest and scrub; also in suburban ornamental gardens. This syrphid is essentially an insect of deciduous forests and in Ireland is found in all types of indigenous woodland, including wet woodland (Alnus/Salix) and scrub (e.g. Corylus). Although there are instances of its occurrence in conifer plantations these are few, and are more likely to relate to the presence of deciduous scrub e.g. Betula or Salix species with the conifer crop, than to the presence of the conifers themselves. E. eligans is frequent in mature suburban gardens where ornamental shrubs and small trees are to be found and also in association with mature hedges in farmland. It is thus to a significant extent anthropophilic in Ireland.

Adult habitat & habits

Tracksides, clearings etc.; flies round tree foliage; males hover beneath mature trees, at 2 - 6 metres.

Flight period

April/June, plus March in southern Europe and on to the beginning of July at higher altitudes/more northerly latitudes. Larva: described and figured by Goeldlin (1974) and figured in colour by Rotheray (1994) and Bartsch et al (2009a); egg described and figured by Chandler (1968); the larva is aphid feeding and largely arboreal, on shrubs and trees such as Euonymus, Malus, Prunus, Quercus and Sambucus, but can occur on bushes e.g. Rubus fruticosus (Dussaix, 1997), or herbaceous plants e.g. Arundo and some crops, such as Foeniculum, Vicia. Chambers et al (1986) refer to having collected larvae of this species from winter wheat crops. Dussaix (2005a) points out that this species goes through prolonged larval diapause, from spring through to the end of the following winter. Mazánek et al (2001) include this species in their key to the third stage larvae of European Epistrophe.

Flowers visited

White umbellifers, Acer pseudoplatanus, Cistus, Crataegus, Endymion, Euonymus, Euphorbia, Ilex, Prunus spinosa, Stellaria, Viburnum opulus.

Irish reference specimens

In the collections of NMI and UM


Doczkal and Schmid (1994). The male terminalia are figured by Dusek and Laska (1967) and (as E. bifasciata) in Hippa (1968b). The adult insect is illustrated in colour by Kormann (1988), Stubbs and Falk (1983) and Torp (1994).


World distribution(GBIF)

Southern Sweden southwards to Iberia; from Ireland eastwards through central and southern Europe into Turkey and European parts of Russia as far as the Caucasus. It is also widely distributed and common in continental Europe, from the southern edge of Scandinavia to the Mediterranean. It is, however, almost confined to Europe, not known beyond Turkey and the Caucasus.

Irish distribution

Recorded as occurring in Ireland in Coe (1953). E. eligans is common and generally distributed in Ireland.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

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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.