Watch Out for These Top 10 Largest Flying Insects in England

flag of England
© Pavlo Lys/

Written by Keyana Beamon

Updated: August 14, 2023

Share on:


England is the largest country in the United Kingdom, bordered by Wales and Scotland. You may be familiar with England because of its longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth. This beautiful country has a lot to offer for all travelers, including their pesky insects. Equivalent to many places around the world, England has some of the largest flying insects throughout the country. Before visiting this country, it is important to know which kind of flying insects you may encounter.

1. Hornet Robberfly

The scientific name for the hornet robberfly is Asilus crabroniformis, which is the largest fly in England. The Horney robberfly emerges between June and October. The fly is black and yellow with a body length of 2.5 centimeters. These creatures feed on dung beetles, bees, and grasshoppers. Although, these creatures look scary, they are harmless to humans.

Huge Hornet Robberfly ( Asilus crabroniformis) hunting on heather , near to a large rabbit warren

These creatures may sound scary; however, they are harmless to humans.


2. Cockchafers

The cockchafers, Melolontha melolantha, are normally seen in south England. This large beetle is between 2.5 and 3 centimeters in length. Light attract these insects and they make a noisy hum when flying. This bug is also known as the May bug.

Cockchafer (Melolontha melolontha) at the time of takeoff from the viburnum flower. Maybeetle in the dynamic moment of takeoff, macro.
Fun Fact

: In 1574, the cockchafers emerged in large numbers in Severn Valley disabling their watermills!

©Ihor Hvozdetskyi/

3. Ruby Tailed Wasps

The ruby tailed wasps is also known as the “cuckoo wasp” or the “emerald wasp”. These solitary insects emerge between April and September. The shiny blue-green insect can grow up to 5 millimeters. This beautiful wasp do not sting humans, although they have long stingers.

Ruby-tailed Wasp on White Background

The scientific name for this creature is

Chrysis ignita


©Ed Phillips/

4. Heath Potter Wasp

The heath potter wasp are in the Heathlands of southern England between late April and mid October. These wasps make mud pots to collect small caterpillars and paralyze them for when their eggs hatch. Making clay pots can take between 2 to 3 hours for the wasp. The scientific name for the heath potter wasp is Eumenes coarctatus.

Ancistrocerus nigricornis mason wasp

The heath potter wasp are glossy black with yellow markings and a very narrow waist.


5. Dark-Edged Bee Fly

The dark-edged bee fly, Bombylius major, live in southern England, the Midlands, and Welsh lowlands between March and May. The eight centimeter fly has a long tongue sticking out of its head for drinking nectar. Although this fly mimics bees, it is actually a fly.

A closeup of a dark-edged bee-fly Bombylius major

There are multiple species of the bee-fly; however, this specific fly can be distinguished by its dark colored wings.

©Wirestock Creators/

6. European Beewolf

The scientific name for this insect is, Philanthus triangulum, and grow up to 17 millimeters in length. This insect digs nests in sandy spots to hunt for honey bees. This solitary wasp can emerge between July and September.

Closeup on a yellow European beewolf, bee-killer wasp , Philanthus triangulum sitting on wood

The European Beewolf is the bee killer of Europe.

©Wirestock Creators/

7. Large Red Damselfly

The 35 millimeter large red damselfly live and fly over England between April and July. This insect hangs around ponds, wetlands, and streams. The scientific name for this fly is Pyrrhosoma nymphula.

A male large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula) seen at rest in May

The large red damselfly has black legs, wings, and thorax along with red body.

©Keith Hider/

8. Marmalade Hoverfly

The scientific name for this fly is Episyrphus balteatus and is found in Britain. The fly is black with orange stripes and can grow up to 1.2 centimeters in length. If you are a gardner you will see these insects hanging around your garden looking for nectar. These insects are common all over Britain and are orange with black markings.

A Marmalade Hoverfly (Episyrphus balteatus) feeding on a Sneezeweed flower.

The Marmalade Hoverfly do not have stingers and are harmless to humans.

©David James Chatterton/

9. Emperor Dragonfly

The emperor dragonfly is Britain’s bulkiest dragonfly. The scientific name for this dragonfly is the Anax imperator. This dragonfly is bright blue and green and are 78 millimeters in length. Young emperor dragonflies are referred to as nymphs and can take up to 1 year to develop their wings. Once they are full winged adults, they only live for 10 days. This insect emerge between June and August around large ponds and lakes.

The emperor dragonfly or blue emperor is a large species of hawker dragonfly of the family Aeshnidae, averaging 78 millimetres in length

The emperor dragonfly gain speeds of 24mph when flying in the air.

©Denis Vesely/

10. The Dark Giant Horsefly

This fly can grow up to 5 centimeters in length and compare to the size of a queen bumblebee. This horsefly can is found in Britain. The dark giant horsefly will bite horses and cattle for a blood meal; however, they have made humans their victim as well. These type of flies are prone to transmitting diseases, but in Denmark, so far their has not been any evidence of this becoming in issue. If visiting ponds or lake, make sure to wear insect repellant or long sleeves.

Tabanus sudeticus, also known as the dark giant horse fly

The scientific name for the dark giant horsefly is



I hope that after reading about some of the top flying insects in England have not caused you to not want to visit! If anything now that you know about their flying insects, this will encourage you to visit and observe these creatures! Some of these large flying insects are harmless to humans; however, wear insect repellant and protective long sleeves to be on the safe side. Any part of the world can make you second guess if you should visit, especially when not knowing what you can encounter. Always research places that you choose to visit so you can be safe and still be able to observe creatures native to certain parts of the world!

Share this post on:
About the Author

Keyana is a licensed veterinary technician who has been working with animals for more than 10 years. She has done a mixture of emergency, preventative, and shelter. She loves to mentor others and has recently started a podcast about the ins and outs of veterinary medicine. In her free time, she love to watch/read anything crime related, tend to her garden, try new foods, work on puzzles, and hangout with friends.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.