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Fly Gardening

Thu, Apr 25th, 2024, created by Dan Gilrein

What do chocolate, trillium, and pawpaws all have in common? Its obvious to entomologists: their flowers are all pollinated by flies!  Flies are second overall to bees as pollinators and some plants depend exclusively on them as partners. And once drawn in many of these flies do a double-duty providing (free!) biological control services as predators and parasitoids of pest insects. (Some flies are helpful without acting as pollinators too: greenhouse growers on Long Island sometimes see natural populations of hunter flies capturing shore flies and fungus gnats in their ranges.)  Once you start observing flies suddenly the notion of them as annoying pests transmogrifies into appreciation of their diversity, beauty, interesting behaviors, and strategies for life in wild.  For example, some flies mimic bees, wasps, spiders or ants to fool predators and the rest of us (recognize flies by their single pair of wings; bees and wasps have two pairs).  Many favorite and noteworthy garden plants attract these interesting and helpful creatures. Read more about drawing in these delightful pollinators and beneficial insects at these websites:


Feeding the Flower Flies: How to Attract Flies to Your Garden


Fly Gardens, Plants for Flies


USDA Forest Service: Fly Pollination


About the Author:

Dan Gilrein

Entomologist, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County

Dan Gilrein is the Extension Entomologist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County at the Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center, Riverhead, NY since 1995 and previously served there as IPM Specialist with Cornell from 1987. In his current position he conducts applied research on control of arthropod pests in food crops and on ornamental plants, provides diagnostic services to the horticultural industries, and conducts educational programs and presentations for industry, government officials, civic groups and the public on pests and pest management.

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