We all know how important bees are for pollination. They get all the credit as being hugely important for the pollination of crops across the planet – and they are due that credit. But what about hoverflies. They look like bees but are hoverflies pollinators too?
Yes, adult hoverflies are pollinators. In some areas, hoverflies are responsible for almost 70% of the pollination of native wildflowers, making them extremely important to the ecosystem.
While bees tend to get the credit when it comes to pollinating, it is important to give the hoverfly its due.
Often, these insects are confused for bees at first glance due to their similarities. Bees are responsible for pollinating three out of every four food crops, but hoverflies are beginning to take their place on the list of pollinators to watch for.
With the collapse of the bee population looming above us and threatening to take us all down with it, the hoverfly offers a small ray of hope. Knowing that these insects can pollinate effectively is a breath of fresh air while we work to reestablish the bee population.
Should You Encourage Hoverflies?
Yes, encouraging hoverflies is a good idea for multiple reasons. Firstly, hoverfly larvae have a huge appetite for aphids. In fact, their diet consists mainly of aphids.
Secondly, adult hoverflies are actually hugely important pollinators as you should well know by now. This means that encouraging the is a great way to help with pollination.
How to Encourage Hoverflies
Hoverflies are extremely beneficial to your garden’s ecosystem. SInce hoverfly larvae eat common plant pests like aphids and mites and adult hoverflies are very efficient pollinators, you may want to learn how to encourage hoverflies to stay in and around your garden.
There are quite a few things you can do to attract hoverflies and keep them in your gardens for long periods of time:
Don’t Mow Your Lawn
When you allow your lawn to grow taller between mowing sessions, you help create an oasis for hoverflies. Hoverflies forage the tall grasses and enjoy the nectar and pollen from dandelions.
Dandelions are also beneficial for other pollinators like butterflies and bees. It’s time we stopped referring to them as weeds!
Plant Hoverfly Friendly Flowers
We already established that hoverflies and other pollinators benefit greatly from dandelions, but planting even more flowering plants will be beneficial for attracting hoverflies.
Hoverflies are also attracted to plants in the aster family. Plants in the aster family are flowering perennials like daisies and sunflowers.
As with all pollinators, it is important to keep flowering plants throughout the season. Try to plant some early blooming plants like tulips and hyacinth, and allow your dandelions and lawn to grow.
This will provide the necessary food and energy for the springtime for pollinators. As the season goes on, be sure to have lots of flowers that bloom continuously to provide consistent food sources for the pollinators.
Create a Hoverfly Lagoon
You can create a hoverfly lagoon out of an old bucket or container. Some species of hoverflies lay eggs in water.
Once you find an old container, fill it with water, and top it with some grass, leaves, and twigs. These will act as a solid place for the females to sit and lay their eggs.
Once the eggs hatch, they will swim in the water. These larvae are called rat-tailed maggots. Place your hoverfly lagoon in a shady spot to avoid evaporation. After a few weeks have passed, check your hoverfly lagoon and look for any swimming rat-tailed maggots!
Which Plants Encourage Hoverflies?
Hoverflies are incredibly beneficial as both pollinators and pest control. Adult hoverflies are extremely efficient pollinators and can pollinate as well as bees and butterflies.
Hoverfly larvae eat pests like aphids and mites. Your garden will benefit from the presence of hoverflies. If you want to attract hoverflies, you can plant flowers and plants that they are drawn to.
Which Plants Do Hoverflies Like?
Hoverflies like low, flat flowers and flowering plants that are easy to get nectar from. Aster family plants like daisies and cosmos are a favourite of hoverflies, but so are herbs like fennel and mint. Below find an incomplete list of plants that hoverflies like.
- Queen Anne’s Lace
Which Plants Do Hoverflies Not Like?
There are few, if any, plants that hoverflies do not like. While they prefer bright coloured flowering plants, other plants do not necessarily deter them from your space.
Like most pollinators, they do not like double-flowered plants which have little-to-no nectar or nectar that is not easy to access. This is why flat, open flower heads are preferred.
Hoverflies are very important to your garden’s success. Adult hoverflies will pollinate flowers as they eat the nectar and pollen from them. Hoverfly larvae are natural predators and seek out pests like aphids and thrips as a good source.
You can increase your chances of attracting hoverflies by growing flowering plants in your garden. Adult hoverflies love plants in the aster family, like daisies and cosmos. Hoverflies prefer flowers that are shallow and flat which makes it easier to get the pollen from.