Rather alarmingly and sadly, a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) published in October 2022 details how Europe’s hoverflies are in decline – to be precise, over one-third of hoverflies are threatened with extinction in Europe.
“This IUCN European Red List assessment found that 314 out of 890 species in Europe are Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. Hoverflies (Syrphidae) are critical for the planet’s food security because they are the second most significant pollinator group globally after bees, often showing higher rates of visiting flowers than bees. They also naturally control populations of aphids, small sap-sucking insects that damage many commercial crops, such as the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae) on peach crops.” (https://www.iucn.org/press-release/202210/over-one-third-hoverflies-threatened-extinction-europe-iucn-red-list)
As with many human impacts on species, intensive agriculture and the use of pesticides is the main culprit for this decline.
“The main way to help stop the decline in hoverfly populations is by protecting their habitats and connecting habitats across the landscape. Most urgently, it is critical to protect ancient trees which contain trunk cavities, tree-holes, sap-runs, fallen branches and tree stumps – the microhabitats where the larvae of a wide range of species feed, including many that are threatened,” said Dr Francis Gilbert, Co-Chair of the IUCN SSC’s Hoverfly Specialist Group.(https://www.iucn.org/press-release/202210/over-one-third-hoverflies-threatened-extinction-europe-iucn-red-list)
We must protect our ancient woodlands and grow more wildflowers to help hoverflies and all the other insect species that depend on them. It doesn’t matter how small or large the patch of wildflowers that you grow, anything will help. The state of Nature at the moment is horrendous, and humans need to remedy the mess they have made of this beautifully diverse planet.