Sphaerophoria philanthus

Sphaerophoria philanthus (Meigen, 1822)

Biology & ecology:

Although the larva has not been found in Europe, a species with the same name is well known in N. America where it is an aphid predator in crops such as Brassica. However, the habits and biology described in American literature do not fit at all well with what is known of this species in Europe, so it is probable that they are not the same species (Speight, 2010). In Britain it is found in dry heath and moorland situations and also in heathy rides in conifer plantations. Adults fly low amongst the vegetation where they may visit flowers such as Tormentil Potentilla erecta.


Widespread and frequent in suitable localities in the north and west of Britain. Scarce in southern England and East Anglia where it is confined to the major heathlands.

Status & conservation:

The frequency of occurrence is variable, but suggests a decline over the last 25 years. This is a taxon that requires microscopic examination and likely to be overlooked by the majority of recorders.

Recorded from 323 hectads since 1990.