Cheilosia albipila


Species Biology

Preferred environment

Wetland/forest; Alnus/Salix carr, clearings, tracksides and other open areas in humid forest, both coniferous and deciduous, up to the altitude of Larix forest. Nearly all Irish records of this insect are from some sort of woodland, or woodland edge, either close to water or in poorly-drained situations. There are virtually no Irish records from pasturage. Rotheray (1991) notes that in comparison with the larvae of other Cheilosia species he reared from C. palustre in Scottish pastures he found very few C. albipila larvae. These facts suggest some other Cirsium species may well be the preferred host for C. albipila, at least in Ireland and Scotland. From the situations in which the adult fly occurs this could be C. dissectum. Alternatively, C. albipila may exploit C. palustre only when the plant is under conditions of physiological stress, such as when it is in a sub-optimal environment. Certainly, until the larval biology of this insect is better known, why it is apparently absent from situations in which its supposed foodplant is most abundant is likely to remain a mystery.

Adult habitat & habits

Tracks and clearings in forest and at the edge of woodland; tracks etc. through carr; males hover at 1-3m, beside bushes etc.

Flight period

End March/end May. Larva: described and figured by Rotheray (1988a), from specimens collected from Cirsium palustre in pastures. The larva is a stem miner in Carduus and Cirsium palustre. It is shown in colour, within its stem mine, by Bartsch et al (2009a). This species overwinters as a puparium. The morphology of the chorion of the egg is figured by Kuznetzov (1988).

Flowers visited

Betula, Caltha, Cardamine, Corylus, Prunus spinosa, Ribes uvacrispa, Salix, Taraxacum, Tussilago, Vaccinium.

Irish reference specimens

In the collections of NMI and UM. 


van Veen (2004). Although usually orange-brown, the third antennal segment is more variable in colour in this species than is indicated in keys and can be entirely dark, greyish-brown. Specimens with antennae darkened in this way could be confused with C. alpina. The surstyli of the male terminalia of C. albipila are figured by Stubbs and Falk (2002) and Violovitsh (1986). The adult insect is illustrated in colour by Kormann (1988), Stubbs and Falk (1983), Torp (1984, 1994) and van der Goot (1986).


World distribution(GBIF)

Southern Fennoscandia south to the Pyrenees; Ireland eastwards through parts of northern and central Europe into European Russia and on to central Siberia. 

Irish distribution

Recorded as occurring in Ireland in Coe (1953). Almost all Irish records of this insect are from the southern half of the island. Climate may play a role here, since in Scandinavia C. albipila only reaches the southern tip of Norway (Nielsen, 1999). This syrphid is certainly infrequent in Ireland, but cannot be regarded as threatened here. It is a reasonably frequent species in Atlantic parts of Europe in general, but becomes much more localised in central Europe and is not recorded from the Mediterranean zone. However, its range does extend eastwards from Europe far into Siberia, making it one of the more wide-ranging of the plant-feeding syrphids found 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.