Seasonal Diversity of Hoverflies in Apple and Peach Orchards

Jenn Hoskins
24th May, 2024

Seasonal Diversity of Hoverflies in Apple and Peach Orchards

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • The study focused on hover flies in apple and peach orchards in North Georgia from March to October in 2020 and 2021
  • Toxomerus geminatus and Toxomerus marginatus made up 86.6% of the hover flies collected
  • Hover fly diversity and richness peaked post-bloom, while Toxomerus spp. abundance was highest during the bloom period
Apple and peach production in North Georgia is a significant industry that benefits immensely from ecological services like crop pollination and natural biological control provided by beneficial insects. Hover flies, which offer both these services, have been relatively understudied in orchard ecosystems. A recent study conducted by the University of Georgia aimed to fill this knowledge gap by investigating the diversity and seasonal activity of hover flies in apple and peach orchards at two sites in North Georgia from March to October in 2020 and 2021[1]. The study used bowl traps to sample hover flies in both orchard edge and interior habitats. It found that the aphidophagous species Toxomerus geminatus and Toxomerus marginatus comprised 86.6% of the total hover flies collected. Apple orchards showed the greatest hover fly presence, species richness, and Toxomerus spp. abundance. Hover fly richness and diversity peaked during the post-bloom period, while Toxomerus spp. abundance was highest during the bloom period. Interestingly, no significant differences in presence, richness, diversity, or Toxomerus spp. abundance were observed between edge and interior habitats. Toxomerus geminatus and T. marginatus were dominant from March through August, with T. geminatus being more abundant in March, early April, and August. The greatest hover fly richness was recorded in October. This study aligns with earlier findings that emphasize the importance of floral plantings in enhancing pest control and pollination services. For instance, flower strips have been shown to boost pest control services in adjacent fields by 16% on average, although their effects on crop pollination and yield are more variable[2]. The current study's findings that hover flies are abundant and exhibit substantial spatial and temporal variation in North Georgia orchards could help optimize the use of floral plantings to enhance these ecosystem services. Previous research has also highlighted the role of specific insectary plants in boosting natural enemies of pests like the aphid Myzus persicae in peach orchards[3]. The presence of hover flies, which are significant predators of aphids, was notably higher near insectary plants like Lobularia maritima and Moricandia arvensis. This supports the current study's emphasis on the importance of hover flies in orchard ecosystems and suggests potential strategies for enhancing their populations through targeted floral plantings. Another study tested the efficacy of flower strips targeting different subsets of beneficial arthropods in cider apple orchards. It found that mixed flower strips attracted both pollinators and natural enemies, although pest aphid densities and fruit yield were unaffected[4]. The current study's findings on the seasonal and spatial variations in hover fly populations could inform the design of more effective flower strips that cater to the specific needs of these beneficial insects. In summary, the University of Georgia's study has provided valuable insights into the diversity and seasonal activity of hover flies in North Georgia orchards. By aligning these findings with previous research, it is clear that hover flies play a crucial role in providing essential ecosystem services like pest control and pollination. Further studies incorporating additional sampling efforts and methods are needed to fully characterize the hover fly fauna and their impact on North Georgia apple and peach orchards. This research could pave the way for optimized floral plantings that enhance the ecological intensification of agriculture, ultimately benefiting both the environment and the economy.



Main Study

1) Hover fly (Diptera: Syrphidae) diversity and seasonality in North Georgia apple and peach orchards.

Published 23rd May, 2024

Related Studies

2) The effectiveness of flower strips and hedgerows on pest control, pollination services and crop yield: a quantitative synthesis.

3) Can Insectary Plants Enhance the Presence of Natural Enemies of the Green Peach Aphid (Hemiptera: Aphididae) in Mediterranean Peach Orchards?

4) Getting More Power from Your Flowers: Multi-Functional Flower Strips Enhance Pollinators and Pest Control Agents in Apple Orchards.

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