Cheilosia antiqua


Species Biology

Preferred environment

Forest/open ground; deciduous forest and unimproved pasture, including montane/subalpine pasture. The range of situations in which this fly occurs in Ireland is entirely consistent with its larval food requirements, its plant hosts being various species of Primula. It is noticeable that although C. antiqua is frequent to beyond 1000m in calcareous parts of the Alps, where Primula species are also found, this hoverfly does not occur away from low altitudes in Ireland, Primula generally being very scarce away from the lowlands in Ireland. Rotheray (1991) does not record which Primula species he reared C. antiqua from in Scotland, but in Ireland P. veris and P. vulgaris are very probably both used, accounting for the occurrence of C. antiqua in both deciduous woods and permanent pasture here. Improvement of grassland is no more favourable to C. antiqua than to Primula species and this hoverfly is now much less frequent in grassland in Ireland than previously. Indeed, it is now unusual to find C. antiqua in the standard farmland landscape of green fields and hedges.

Adult habitat & habits

Clearings and beside tracks in woodland; also along old hedgerows; in the open in montane pasture; flies low and settles on low-growing plants and bushes; males hover up to 4 metres.

Flight period

April/June, with occasional specimens in March and July. Larva: described and figured by Rotheray (1991) and illustrated in colour by Rotheray (1994); known to feed within the roots of various Primula species.

Flowers visited

Caltha, Cardamine, Fragaria, Iris, Ranunculus,Taraxacum

Irish reference specimens

In the collections of NMI and UM


See key to males of European Nigrocheilosia species in StN Keys volume; Barkalov and StÃ¥hls (1997) figure the male terminalia. The adult insect is illustrated in colour by Torp (1994).


World distribution(GBIF)

 Ireland through to central Europe and southern Europe (former Yugoslavia) and on into European parts of Russia. Apparently not recorded from further north than Denmark and not known from the Pyrenees, though it is recorded from Spain.  It is widely distributed in most of the Atlantic zone of Europe, but more localised in central Europe, where it is mostly a montane insect. C. antiqua is endemic to Europe.

Irish distribution

Recorded from Ireland in Coe (1953). Although widely distributed in Ireland, C. antiqua is becoming progressively confined to deciduous woodland situations, away from the unimproved limestone pavement grasslands protected in the Burren. It is by no means threatened here, but certainly decreasing.

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.