Eristalis abusivus


Species Biology

Preferred environment

Wetland; coastal fen and salt-marsh; marsh and fen, raised bog and cutover bog. In Ireland, this species occurs in a wide range of situations, from dune slacks and marsh to fen and streamsides in blanket bog and in oligotrophic, seasonally flooded grassland. Unlike some other Eristalis species, E. abusiva has no known association with animal dung or eutrophic conditions and is not, generally, an anthropophilic species. However, it can occur in Ireland in association with (and has been bred from) the cleaner lagoons (i.e. towards the end of the lagoon series) in constructed wetlands, introduced to farmland for treatment of livestock waste. It does not occur in the standard farmland landscape of green fields and hedges, or in suburban gardens and parks. It can be found at almost any altitude and can be abundant where found. Indeed, in Ireland this insect probably reaches its maximum frequency in western Europe, except for parts of Scandinavia.

Adult habitat & habits

Flies up to 2m from the ground, usually in the vicinity of standing water and where taller and more dense fen or marsh vegetation occurs.

Flight period

Beginning May/mid October. Larva: described and figured by Hartley (1961), from specimens collected from mud at the edge of a moorland pond. The species has also been collected from emergence traps installed at the edge of oligotrophic flushes in unimproved grassland.

Flowers visited

Yellow composites; white umbellifers; Calluna vulgaris, Caltha, Cirsium, Erica, Potentilla erecta, Ranunculus, Rubus fruticosus agg. Salix repens, Stellaria, Spartina.

Irish reference specimens

In the collections of NMI and UM


See Key provided in StN Keys volume and Hippa et al (2001), who also figure 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)

Fennoscandia and the Faroes (Jensen, 2001) south to northern France (Yonne); from Ireland eastwards through northern and central Europe (extremely scarce in most of central Europe) into Russia and on through Siberia to the Pacific coast. It is primarily a species of northern and Atlantic parts of Europe, occurring frequently from northern Norway southwards to the Netherlands, but becoming extremely localised in central Europe, where it is absent from the Alps. It is not found in the Mediterranean zone. Nonetheless, from northern Europe its range extends eastwards to the Pacific.

Irish distribution

Recorded as occurring in Ireland in Coe (1953). E. abusiva is frequent and widely distributed in Ireland, except in the north of the island.

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.