Page 57 - Sonoma County Gazette June 2019
P. 57

Beneficial Bugs ~ Syrphid flies
   By Robert Kourik
My favorite beneficial bug (technically an insect) is the syrphid fly. It does a
lot more damage to aphids than other predators—even ladybug larvae. The syrphid fly (of the family Syrphidae), also called a hoverfly, is often
mistaken for a bee or wasp. This insect, however, lives up to its common name—it hovers in the air like a helicopter in front of flowers. (Bees can’t
do this.) If you’ve ever paused near a patch of cosmos on a sunny summer afternoon, you’re certainly familiar with the unique flight of the hoverfly as it zigzags about the blossoms, occasionally stopping in mid-air, its shimmering wings barely visible.
 With their distinctive yellow-and- black striping, they’re often mistaken for a “pest,” but the truth is that the hoverfly is a much better predator
of aphids than ladybugs, especially the syphid’s larvae. A single hoverfly larva can eat much more than its body weight in aphids, while its mom and dad help pollinate the garden
as they fly from flower to flower to gather nectar and pollen to survive.
  Because the larvae of hoverflies, like those of ladybugs, look like tiny slugs, they’re also often mistaken for a pest and squished or sprayed. (The poor little guys get it on all fronts.) And don’t forget that all sprays, organic or chemical, will kill not only the hoverfly’s favorite food— aphids—but many insects, whether they’re beneficial or not.
 When you spot aphids on a
plant, look more closely; it may be harboring such a low level of the bugs that it’s not a problem. In this case, you leave the plant alone while nature maintains its natural balance. The good guys can’t survive without some of the bad guys. And there are plenty of syrphid flies—300 species of them, just on our west coast.
  Hoverfly ~ source
Their favorite flowers are the daisy (Asteraceae), buckwheat (Polygonaceae), and umbel (Apiaceae) families. They also feed on nectar and pollen in a
wide range of other plant families, including rose (Rosaceae), buckthorn (Rhamnaceae), borage (Boraginaceae), and willow (Salicaceae).
LEARN MORE about Hoverlys
@ dailynewsblog/2017/07/polli- nation-pollinator-month-hoverfly/
EXCERPT from Lazy Ass Gardening distributed by Chelsea Green Publishing at
A complex habitat and diversity
of flowering plants found in most gardens creates an ideal environment for attracting hoverflies, which seek out pest colonies in which to lay their eggs. Because many species pupate and overwinter in leaf litter, a permanent mulch will encourage persistent populations. Hoverflies are also sensitive to wind, so provide some shelter near flowerbeds for windy days.
  to designer, Patti Buttitta, for help with his most recent book that describes how to “maximize your soil and minimize your toil.” INFO: Buttitta Design, - 707-546-1257.
6/19 - - 57
Patti Buttitta lends her design expertise to Robert Kourik for his new book, Lazy-Ass Gardening. After successfully developing the cover design for Kourik’s Understanding Roots in 2015-16, Robert came back

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