Drone Fly, Hover Fly, Rat-Tailed Maggot
SYRPHIDAE , DIPTERA
(Photo: courtesy of Monika, Orange, New South Wales)
These are not true Caterpillars, but are the larvae of a fly. The larvae normally live in polluted water, feeding on microscopic organisms. There being little oxygen in the water, the larvae breathe through their long tube-like tail, which acts like a snorkel. Some cases have been known of people having these larvae in their intestines, probably from eating food contaminated with eggs of the fly, or drinking water contaminated with immature larvae.
The adult flies have brown and yellow bodies, and appear to mimic bees, but only have two wings (bees have four). Like bees, the flies feed on nectar from flowers, and hover over the flowers before landing. They beat their wings so fast that they make a continuous droning sound. They also look like male drone bees.
The genus is found all over the world, for example :
Further reading :
Douglas F. Waterhouse (Editor),
Insects of Australia, Melbourne University Press, 1970, p. 714.
(updated 7 November 2008)