They're Pollinators, Too

May 19, 2010

When we think of pollinators, we usually think of honey bees,  bumble bees, carpenter bees, syrphid or flower flies, and butterflies.

But wait, blow flies can be pollinators, too.

You see them stopping on flowers for a sip of nectar, and in their travels from one flower to the other, they can--and do--transfer pollen.

Blow flies, though, aren't exactly what the organizers of National Pollinator Week had in mind when they set aside June 21-27 to celebrate the pollinators.

The U. S. Forest Service says that "of the 1,400 crop plants grown around the world, i.e., those that produce all of our food and plant-based industrial products, almost 80% require pollination by animals. Visits from bees and other pollinators also result in larger, more flavorful fruits and higher crop yields. In the United States alone, pollination of agricultural crops is valued at $10 billion annually. Globally, pollination services are likely worth more than $3 trillion."

So, when we talk about "the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees," we ought to include an occasional blow fly from the order Diptera and family Calliphoridae.

Besides, this little bugger does lend itself to alliteration: birds, bees, bats, beetles, butterflies and blow flies.

By Kathy Keatley Garvey
Author - Communications specialist

Attached Images:

A BLOW FLY lands on the tip of lavender. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Blow Fly on Lavender

THE BLOW FLY can be a pollinator, too. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)

Blow Fly