As homeowners, it’s not uncommon to encounter a variety of insects around our property, some of which might cause concern due to their appearance or behavior. Two such insects that often raise questions are hover flies and sweat bees. Hoverflies and sweat bees are both insects commonly found in gardens and outdoor environments. They can be mistaken for each other due to their similar size and appearance. However, there are some key differences you can look for to distinguish between them.

Hover flies, scientifically known as Syrphidae, are harmless insects that often mimic the appearance of bees and wasps, which can lead to confusion. However, hover flies lack stingers and pose no threat to humans or pets. Their adult stage primarily feeds on nectar and pollen, making them effective pollinators for various plants. The adult hover flies’ resemblance to bees and wasps acts as a defense mechanism against predators, as many animals tend to avoid potential threats like stinging insects.

Sweat bees, on the other hand, belong to the family Halictidae and are genuine bees. These bees are often small, with some species displaying metallic or iridescent colors. They are commonly found hovering around flowers and can be attracted to human perspiration, giving them their distinctive name. However, sweat bees are generally not aggressive and rarely sting unless provoked or trapped.

How to Identify

Body Shape and Size:

Hoverflies: These insects have a more robust and elongated body shape that is often wider in the middle and tapers towards the rear. They can vary in size but are generally about the same size as or slightly larger than a honeybee.

Sweat Bees: Sweat bees are generally smaller and more slender in appearance compared to hoverflies. They have a more compact body shape and are usually closer in size to a typical honeybee.


Hoverflies: Many hoverfly species mimic the appearance of bees and wasps with black and yellow bands, which can lead to confusion. However, upon closer inspection, you may notice that hoverflies have larger eyes that often touch or almost touch at the top of their head. Their wings are also generally clear and vein-like.

Sweat Bees: Sweat bees can have various colorations, including metallic green, blue, or black. They may have some hair but generally have a smoother appearance. Their eyes are usually more separated on their head compared to hoverflies. Their wings can be transparent or slightly tinted.

Should Homeowners Call Pest Control?

In the case of hover flies and sweat bees, homeowners should consider whether intervention from a pest control company is truly necessary. Both insects are generally harmless and can even provide ecological benefits to your property. Here’s what you should consider:

Identification: Before taking any action, it’s important to accurately identify the insects. Understanding the differences between hover flies and sweat bees will help you assess their potential impact on your surroundings.

Behavior: Both hover flies and sweat bees are beneficial pollinators and contribute positively to the environment. If their presence does not pose any immediate threat to your family or property, it might be best to coexist with them.

Professional Consultation: If you’re still uncertain about whether to call a pest control company, it’s a good idea to consult with local experts who can provide guidance tailored to your specific situation.

Call Romans Pest Management at the first sign for a free no-pressure inspection. If you’re not happy with the estimated amount, we’ll leave, no harm done.

Conveniently located in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, Romans Pest Management serves the whole Tri-State area, including Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, and Southeast Indiana.