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

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

Since the Varroa mite outbreak in New South Wales, the threat of bee population loss has increased for beekeepers and farmers alike.

Scientists from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) have been conducting 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 relied solely on one type of pollinator — bees — according to DPIRD senior entomologist David Cook.

Flying as pollinators: close-up
It is hoped that flies will be a backup pollinator species for bees. Supplied: DPIRD

‘accidental’ pollinators

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

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

Flying on blueberries
Researchers have begun large-scale trials of blueberry plants in a tunnel house.Supplied: DPIRD

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