A Gardner’s Friend

The Hoverfly is usually mistaken for a sweat bee or small honey bee, due to its size and colors. However, this harmless fly actually helps us by controlling the population of a well known Tennessee Pest; the aphid. Aphids can be annoying to gardeners, as they feed on the honeydew of plants. This sucks the life right out of vegetables, and you can see the damage from eaten leaves to completely dead plants. Aphids also cause other issues with the honeydew that they cannot digest, so they leave behind a residue. This residue will cover leaves causing death of plants, can cause mold growth and also attract other pests such as ants. So you see why we should love the Hoverfly. Many gardeners will actually plant white and yellow flowers or herbs among their fruit and vegetables to attract them. The Hoverfly will then assist by being a very efficient natural pest control with the use of their larvae.

Hoverflies can be identified by their black and yellow stripes (like a bee), small size of only up to ½” long and having only two wings. To further mimic a stinging insect, their wings have two darker stripes on the leading edge to make it look like they have four wings. When it rest, most predators will recognize this as a bee and stay away. But this is a fly, so it has no stinger. You can spot them hovering over flowers in order to gather nectar and are very important to the pollination process.

The Hoverfly female also helps further with the aphid control process, by locating and laying eggs near an area that has aphids. Once the eggs hatch in just a few days, they have an instant food source. Even as a larvae they can eat up to fifty aphids each, per day. That is a considerable amount for larvae with no legs, but they can still move fast. Adults do not eat the aphids, so it is the larvae that are the natural pest control at work. Larvae can consume four to five hundred aphids in their larval stage.  Then they spin a cocoon to grow into adults in just two weeks. An adult Hoverfly only lives two to four weeks and they do not overwinter, but rather die. This leaves the next generation in the ground waiting to hatch and continue life cycle next spring.

The Hoverfly is one of the true helpers of the insect world. They are relatively harmless, help with pollination only second to that of bees, and help control the aphid population of up to eighty or ninety percent of an infestation. Some Hoverfly populations have even been known to completely wipe out an aphid infestation harming a crop or garden. So, make sure to plant those white and yellow flowers, not to mention herbs such as oregano, cilantro, thyme and lemon balm so you can attract these beneficial flies.

Hoverflies are an insect you want around your house and garden, however if you are dealing with a Nashville Pest Control Issue of unwanted invaders, please give us a call. Certified Pest Control Nashville should be your first and only call to give you local family and owned personal service. Contact our family, to protect yours.