The Footballer - Helophilus pendulus

Alternative names
Footballer Hoverfly

This hoverfly is sometimes called 'The Footballer' due to its stripy thorax. There are in fact several species with similar stripes which are difficult to tell apart. Another name is 'The Sunfly' due to its preference for bright sunny days. In this species the black on the hind tibia is restricted to the distal third and the mid tibia is all yellow.

Similar Species

Helophilus pendulus, H. trivittatus and H. hybridus are all very similar. See Identification Aids below for help on separating these three species.

Identification difficulty
Identification aids

The hoverfly Helophilus pendulus is a common find, particularly around water or damp habitats. The black stripes on the thorax give it the common name 'The Footballer'. However, there are other hoverflies in the genus all with a stripy thorax. The guide below should help you to distinguish the three Helophilus species found in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Helophilis ID

Recording advice

Unless identified by a recognised expert, a photo is required. If the photo doesn't show the key ID features then in the comments box describe the size and identifying characters you have observed.


Around muddy puddles, wet ditches and ponds, but also in most sunny situations along roadsides, field margins, etc.

When to see it

April to November, very common from June to August with a peak in July.

Life History

Larvae have been found in farmyard drains, very wet manure, and very wet sawdust.

UK Status

A common hoverfly and widespread throughout Britain.

VC55 Status

Very common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

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Leicestershire & Rutland Map


Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map