Flies as Pollinators
flies are important pollinators – don’t swat that fly!
Flies are often thought of as pests, living in garbage & decay, but in fact flies are among the most common anthophilous insects. Although flies are not as hairy as bees, making them less effective at carrying pollen, research indicates that flies may contribute significantly to the pollination of North American flowers and many food plants. Cocoa plants are completely dependent on pollination by a small fly called a Midge.
Many flies are fascinating bee and wasp mimics and can be distinguished by their single pair of wings and large eyes which usually occupy the majority of their head.
Syrphid flies also known as hover flies or flower flies are especially beneficial because the larvae are predatory feeding on aphids, small caterpillars & thrips. A single larva can consume up to 400 aphids during its development. This is important to consider when using insecticides for aphid infested areas. Even insecticidal soap which generally will not harm adult syrphid flies, can be very disruptive to these soft bodied larvae.
Flies with longer tongues, such as the Flesh fly, are often seen on the same flowers that bees pollinate, but are more commonly found on flowers that simulate the odor of decaying flesh referred to as carrion flowers. These flowers include Jack-in-the-pulpit, Skunk cabbage & Red Trillium.