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Taxomerus, commonly known as calligrapher flies, are a large genus of hover flies in the family Syrphidae. The most common species of this genus are eastern calligraphers, primrose calligraphers, and western calligraphers. Calligrapher flies are one of the most common flower flies in the Americas. (Coin, et al., 2020; Mengual, 2011; Vockeroth, 1992)

What do they look like?

Calligrapher flies are small and are about 5-9.5 millimeters in length. They have bright yellow markings on the thorax. Their abdomens have complex patterns of yellow and black. They have white faces with a thin stripe between their eyes. Their eyes are large and elongated. Their wings are clear. Males have yellow antennae, while the first segments of females' antennae are brown. They can be identified by the triangular notch on the backside of their eyes. (Coin, et al., 2020; Vockeroth, 1992)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently

Where do they live?

Members of the genus of calligrapher flies are only found in the New World. Four species are native to Canada, 13 in the United States, and approximately 130 in the Neotropical region of the New World. (Mengual, 2011; Vockeroth, 1992)

The genus of calligrapher flies is only found in the New World. Four species live in Canada, 13 in the United States, and about 130 in Latin America and South America. (Mengual, 2011; Vockeroth, 1992)

What kind of habitat do they need?

Calligrapher flies are found in many kinds of habitats. They live in tropical and temperate regions. (Mengual, 2011)

How do they grow?

Female calligrapher flies lay up to 100 eggs one at a time on plants. Larvae in their last stage of development will hibernate through the winter. They pupate in soil in the spring. Adults come out in the summer. (Coin, et al., 2020)

The colors of adult calligrapher flies may change depending on the temperature they experience during pupation. If calligrapher flies are in hot temperatures during their pupation, they may be lighter in color with more yellow or orange. If they pupate in cool temperatures, they will be darker in color. (Coin, et al., 2020)

How do they reproduce?

Female calligrapher flies lay eggs. They utilize sexual reproduction and internal fertilization. (Coin, et al., 2020)

Calligrapher flies do not care for their young. (Mengual, 2011)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement

How long do they live?

Adult calligraphy flies tend to live for about a month. (Milne and Milne, 1980)

How do they behave?

Calligrapher flies are active during the day. They are able to fly and tend to stay in one general area. They are a solitary species. (Coin, et al., 2020; Milne and Milne, 1980)

How do they communicate with each other?

Calligrapher flies use sight, touch, sounds, and chemical methods of communication. They also use pheromones, scent marks, and vibrations. They can see in the infrared and ultraviolet ranges of light. They use touch, sound, vibrations, and chemical methods of perception. (Morse, 1981)

What do they eat?

Larvae are reported to eat aphids, pollen, and plant matter. However, the reports about them eating aphids are not confirmed. The larvae of Toxomerus politus feed on pollen and parts of leaves of corn plants. Other species may feed on pea aphids and pea leaves. Calligrapher flies may eat true bugs, mites and ticks, thrips, and larvae of butterflies and moths. (Stone, et al., 1965)

What roles do they have in the ecosystem?

Calligrapher flies have special interactions with bumble bees while foraging on flowers. While the appearance of bumble bees on a flower may cause other flies to stay away, calligrapher flies will quickly come back. (Milne and Milne, 1980; Morse, 1981)

How do they interact with us?

While consuming pollen, calligrapher flies may pollinate the flowers on which they land. (Stone, et al., 1965; Vockeroth, 1992)

While eating pollen, calligrapher flies may pollinate flowers. (Stone, et al., 1965; Vockeroth, 1992)

  • Ways that people benefit from these animals:
  • pollinates crops


Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.


Coin, P., J. Balaban, J. Balaban, B. Moisset, R. McLeod, C. Entz, A. Santos. 2020. "Genus Toxomerus" (On-line). Featured Creatures Entomology & Nematology. Accessed September 18, 2020 at

Mengual, X. 2011. Black-tie dress code: two new species of the genus Toxomerus (Diptera, Syrphidae). ZooKeys, 140: 1-26. Accessed September 24, 2020 at

Milne, M., L. Milne. 1980. National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders. New York: Knopf.

Miranda, G., A. Young, M. Locke, S. Marshall, J. Skevington, F. Thompson. 2013. Key to the Genera of Nearctic Syrphidae. Canadian Journal of Arthropod Identification, 23: 1-351.

Morse, D. 1981. Interactions Among Syrphid Flies and Bumblebees on Flowers. Ecology, 62(1): 81-88. Accessed September 18, 2020 at


Vockeroth, J. 1992. The flower flies of the subfamily Syrphinae of Canada, Alaska, and Greenland, Diptera: Syrphidae PT. 18. Ottawa: Agriculture Canada. Accessed September 18, 2020 at

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Hauze, D. 2021. "Toxomerus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed December 02, 2023 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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