Orthonevra nobilis


Species Biology

Preferred environment

Freshwater/wetland/forest; springs and flushes in fen, raised bog, riparian gallery forest and humid Fagus. May on occasion also occur in association with springs in humid grassland. This syrphid occurs in association with springs and flushes in various situations in Ireland, but not where the water has become eutrophicated or the water-saturated ground has become enriched by organic waste like cow dung, or in conifer plantations. Neither does O. nobilis seem to be associated with rich fen in Ireland. General land-drainage activities and canalisation or piping of springs, such as are often associated with farm improvement, do not favour O. nobilis. This is not an anthropophilic insect and it can only be speculated that it was much more frequent in Ireland previously than it is today.

Adult habitat & habits

Flies among ground vegetation, usually close to water.

Flight period

May/August, plus April in southern Europe. Larva: described and figured by Maibach and Goeldlin (1994), associated with springs and flushes, where it occurs in wet, organically-enriched mud.

Flowers visited

White umbellifers; Fragaria, Galium, Potentilla erecta, Ranunculus.

Irish reference specimens

In the collections of NMI


Bartsch et al (2009b); van Veen (2004); van der Goot (1981) figures the male terminalia. The adult insect is illustrated in colour by Bartsch et al (2009b), Stubbs and Falk (1983) and Torp (1994).


World distribution(GBIF)

From central Norway south to Pyrenees and central Spain; from Ireland eastwards through northern and central Europe into European parts of Russia; also in mountainous parts of Italy, the former Yugoslavia, Greece and Turkey; the Caucasus; through Siberia to the far east; China. 

Irish distribution

Recorded as occurring in Ireland in Coe (1953). The Irish records of O. nobilis are nearly all from the south and east of the island, but they cover a range of altitudes from 175m in Wicklow to sea level in Wexford. This is not a frequent species in Ireland and can only be expected to decrease as land drainage continues. It is widely distributed elsewhere in Europe, though absent from much of Scandinavia, and does not seem to be regarded as under threat in any part of the continent from which it is known.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

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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.