Ladybugs aren’t the only insects that eat aphids. The larvae of this hoverfly, the Tufted Globetail (Sphaerophoria contigua), also feed on those plump little honeydew-poopers. The adults are useful in another important way: they are highly active pollinators. Their main food is nectar and pollen, especially of flowers. Although they don’t have the fuzzy bodies of many bees, good for carrying loads of pollen, hoverflies carry enough and work hard enough to make them important pollinators. They’re also known as flower flies. Their black and yellow abdomen makes them seem like dangerous wasps, but they’re totally harmless. They can’t sting, but they can hover, dart, and dive in the air with the best flyers. Because of their usefulness as aphid-eaters and pollinators, they’re used in commercial biological control applications. So if you see one, don’t be afraid and don’t be hostile; they’re friends. Some gardeners use companion plants to attract hoverflies like this one; useful plants are said to include Alyssum spp., Iberis umbellata, statice, buckwheat, chamomile, parsley, and yarrow.
- Newly Hatched