ENVIRONMENT

A bee-impersonating fly shows potential as a pollinator

Photo by Lukas from Pexels

The syrphid fly, also called hoverfly, is being considered a tiny bee impostor, and it may also be a big help to some gardens and farms. 

New research from Washington State University found that out of more than 2,400 pollinator visits to flowers at urban and rural farms, 35 percent were made by flies, specifically the black-and-yellow-striped syrphid flies. 

For several plants like peas, kale, and lilies, the flies were the only pollinators observed. 

Overall, bees were still the most common, accounting for around 61 percent of floral visits, with the rest made by other insects and spiders. 

The Syrphid flies’ bee-like colors probably help them avoid predators who are afraid of getting stung but being flies, they only have two wings as opposed to bees which have four. 

Researchers also note that flies might have additional benefits for plants since as juveniles, they eat pests like aphids. Adults consume nectar and visit flowers, thus showing the potential to move pollen the same way bees do even though it’s less intentional than the bees who collect pollen to feed their young. 

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