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Taiwan Agricultural Research Institute, Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan--Research units-Applied Zoology Division-Beneficial Insect Laboratory-Achievements

Achievements

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Hoverfly: an excellent beneficial insect

    The importance of pollination has long been known as very important in agricultural production and natural ecosystems. Pollination is the process by which pollen is transferred from the anthers to the stigma. Pollination is a necessary step of flowering plants to produce fruits and seeds and lead to the creation of new plants. Some plants self-pollinate, but the majority of flowering plants rely on wind, water, and animals for pollen transfer. Animals that assist flowering plants in the sexual reproduction by transferring pollen are animal pollinators. Researchers consider that approximately 90% of flowering plants, 75% of human crops, and 33% of human food depend on animal pollinators.

    There are roughly 200,000 varieties of animal pollinators in the world, most of which are insects. Among them, bees are the most well-known pollinators. Honey bees and bumblebees are commercially reared and used for pollinating greenhouse crops. Another noticeable insect group is fly. Flies visit up to 80% of the total flowering plants and are often regarded as the second most important group of pollinators besides bees. Flies are undoubtedly a valuable group of pollinators, but their contribution to pollination services is often ignored.

    Hoverfly, also call as flower fly or Syrphid fly, belongs to insect family Syrphidae (Diptera order), and is a common and important beneficial insect. Hoverfly presents in almost all natural and agricultural fields and is often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers. The adult feeds mainly on pollen and nectar and meanwhile pollinates flowers, while the larvae eat a wide range of foods. In some species, larvae are insectivores and can prey on tiny soft insects, particularly, aphids. The advantage of hoverfly that pollinates flowers and preys aphids makes hoverfly a welcome insect. They are recently come into use in greenhouse for agricultural production.
 

Fig 1. Flower fly hovering towards flower
Fig 1. Flower fly hovering towards flower
Fig 2. Adult hoverfly fed on pollen of sweet pepper in greenhouse
Fig 2. Adult hoverfly fed on pollen of sweet pepper in greenhouse
Fig 3. Hoverfly larvae fed on sweet pepper
Fig 3. Hoverfly larvae fed on sweet pepper