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. This genus is one of the most common flower flies in the New World. Only 101 species of this genus are published and validly named. (Coin, et al., 2020; Mengual, 2011; Vockeroth, 1992)

Geographic Range

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)


Calligrapher flies are found in a variety of habitats, including those in tropical and temperate regions. (Mengual, 2011)

Physical Description

Calligrapher flies are small in size, between 5-9.5 mm 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 their unique triangular notch on the posterior eye margin. (Coin, et al., 2020; Vockeroth, 1992)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes colored or patterned differently


Female calligrapher flies lay up to 100 eggs singly on plants. Larvae in their last instar will overwinter. They pupate in soil in the spring. During the summer, adults emerge. (Coin, et al., 2020)

The colors of adult calligrapher flies may change depending on the temperature they experience during pupation. Calligrapher flies that experience hot temperatures during pupation 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)


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

Calligrapher flies do not utilize parental involvement. (Mengual, 2011)

  • Parental Investment
  • no parental involvement


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


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)

Communication and Perception

Calligrapher flies use visual, tactile, acoustic, and chemical methods of communication. They also use pheromones, scent marks, and vibrations. They use visual perception in infrared and ultraviolet ranges. They use tactile, acoustic, vibrations, and chemical methods of perception. (Morse, 1981)

Food Habits

Larvae are reported to consume aphids, pollen, and plant matter. However, the reports about them consuming aphids have not been reliably verified. The larvae of maize calligrapher feed on pollen and leaf matter of corn plants. Other species may feed on pea aphids and pea leaves. Feeding on true bugs, mites and ticks, thrips, and larvae of butterflies and moths has been observed. (Stone, et al., 1965)

Ecosystem Roles

Calligrapher flies have notable 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 return. They pollinate the flowers they land on while foraging for food. (Milne and Milne, 1980; Morse, 1981)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

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)

  • Positive Impacts
  • pollinates crops


Deena Hauze (author), Animal Diversity Web Staff.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


a period of time when growth or development is suspended in insects and other invertebrates, it can usually only be ended the appropriate environmental stimulus.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature


union of egg and spermatozoan


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.


(as keyword in perception channel section) This animal has a special ability to detect heat from other organisms in its environment.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.


A large change in the shape or structure of an animal that happens as the animal grows. In insects, "incomplete metamorphosis" is when young animals are similar to adults and change gradually into the adult form, and "complete metamorphosis" is when there is a profound change between larval and adult forms. Butterflies have complete metamorphosis, grasshoppers have incomplete metamorphosis.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


lives alone


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


a wetland area that may be permanently or intermittently covered in water, often dominated by woody vegetation.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

tropical savanna and grassland

A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.


A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.

temperate grassland

A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others


uses sight to communicate


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