The Crucial Role of Flies in Pollination: Beyond Buzz and Annoyance

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Written By Blue & Gold NLR Team



As we celebrate National Pollinator Week, our attention naturally gravitates towards the familiar sights of bees, butterflies, and other insects fluttering from blossom to blossom, diligently pollinating our gardens and fields. Yet, amidst these celebrated pollinators, there’s an often-overlooked champion—the humble fly.

Flies: Unsung Heroes of Pollination

While flies are commonly associated with annoyance and found buzzing around decaying matter, they play a surprisingly crucial role as pollinators. According to Joe Boggs, from Ohio State University’s Department of Entomology, flies rank as the world’s second most important pollinating insects.

They are instrumental in pollinating a wide array of plant species, both in natural habitats and agricultural landscapes. Despite their significance, flies are frequently overshadowed by the more charismatic bees and butterflies in discussions about pollination.

Pollination Power of Flies

Flies contribute significantly to crop pollination, visiting an impressive 72% of the plant species studied in a crop analysis conducted by Penn State Extension. Although bees lead with a pollination rate of 93%, flies prove indispensable, particularly during early spring when their activity remains robust even in cooler temperatures.

Diverse Fly Pollinators

Among the diverse species of flies involved in pollination, the syrphid fly stands out. Often referred to as the “flower fly” or “hover fly,” these insects resemble bees with their distinctive yellow-and-black striped bodies. They frequent approximately 50 different crop species, highlighting their versatility and importance in agricultural settings.

Unexpected Contributions: Even Houseflies

Even the common housefly, notorious for its nuisance value, plays a pivotal role as a pollinator. Houseflies contribute significantly to the pollination of crops like mangoes and avocados, as noted by Discover Pollinators. This unexpected role underscores the far-reaching ecological impact of flies beyond their conventional perception.

Chocolate and Flies: A Remarkable Connection

The production of chocolate, a beloved treat enjoyed worldwide, owes its existence to a specialized midge—a close relative of flies—that pollinates the delicate flowers of the cacao tree.

Without these tiny yet essential pollinators, cacao trees would fail to produce the seeds necessary for chocolate production. This unique connection underscores the indispensable role flies play in supporting global food systems and culinary delights.

Attracting Flies to Your Garden

For those looking to harness the pollination potential of flies in their gardens, planting flowers that attract these insects is key. Flies are particularly drawn to white flowers with accessible structures, often emitting scents reminiscent of rotting meat or dung—a natural lure for flies seeking nectar and pollen.

National Pollinator Week: Honoring Vital Ecosystem Contributors

National Pollinator Week serves as an annual tribute to the indispensable role pollinators play in sustaining ecosystems, supporting economies, and ensuring agricultural productivity. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness about the diverse range of pollinators, including flies, and advocate for their protection and conservation.

Environmental Protection and Pollinators

During this important week, organizations like the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emphasize strategies to safeguard pollinators, especially those endangered by herbicides and habitat loss.

Pollinators contribute not only to crop yields but also to air quality, water purity, soil health, and climate resilience—a testament to their critical role in environmental sustainability.


As we commemorate National Pollinator Week, let’s take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate flies as invaluable allies in the intricate tapestry of pollination.

Their often-underestimated contributions are essential for maintaining biodiversity, ensuring food security, and preserving the natural beauty of our world. By fostering understanding and support for all pollinators, including flies, we pave the way for a healthier and more resilient environment for future generations.

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