Why aren’t hov­er­flies de­clin­ing like bees?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Q & A - Stuart Black­man

Hov­er­flies, like many in­sect groups, do seem to be de­clin­ing, but they are not far­ing as badly as bees in gen­eral, and a greater pro­por­tion of hov­er­fly species are thriv­ing. The adults of both groups are nec­tar­feed­ing pol­li­na­tors, which could leave them vul­ner­a­ble to sim­i­lar dan­gers such as pes­ti­cides and de­clin­ing flo­ral di­ver­sity. But there are also im­por­tant dif­fer­ences. The lar­vae of hov­er­flies, un­like those of bees, tend to be preda­tors or scav­engers, which makes them less de­pen­dent on flow­ers, and per­haps less ex­posed to in­sec­ti­cides. Mean­while, adult hov­er­flies tend to be gen­er­al­ist while bees are more spe­cialised. This means they are bet­ter able to switch habi­tats or food sources if nec­es­sary, and be­cause they are not tied to a hive, they can dis­perse more eas­ily.

If you had to choose, best be a hov­er­fly (here a mar­malade) than a bee.

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