Could flies be the backup species to pollinate crops instead of bees?

Researchers in Western Australia have confirmed that a species of blowfly is as good at pollination as bees.

Since the Varroa mite outbreak in New South Wales, the threat of loss of bee populations has become even greater for beekeepers and farmers.

Scientists from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) have been carrying out this research since 2019 as part of a national project funded by Hort Innovation.

The premise of the trials was that the industry feared it was relying on just one species of pollinator – bees – according to DPIRD senior entomologist David Cook.

It is hoped that the flies will be a sort of backup pollinator for the bees. (Provided: DPIRD)

“Accidental” pollinators

Mr Cook says that because blowflies have hairy legs, they pick up pollen almost by accident.

In some cases, native flies stayed on a flower for an average of 30 seconds, transferring pollen between flowers.

Flies on blueberries
Researchers have begun larger-scale trials on blueberry plants in a tunnel house.(Provided: DPIRD)

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