Half a billion hoverflies migrate to the United Kingdom each year The

first_imgThe marmalade hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus, pollinates many kinds of plants. Konrad Wothe/Minden Pictures Now, Chapman and several colleagues have analyzed the data further to sift out patterns for hoverflies. Like larger insects, hoverflies—a common group of centimeter-size insects, many with colorful striped abdomens—can determine where they migrate, the team found. Some insects seem to get blown around by whichever wind they are caught in, but hoverflies appear to be strategic; they climb to an altitude where the predominant winds are blowing in a particular direction. Then they use this powerful tailwind to travel hundreds of kilometers per day. In the spring, hoverflies fly north from continental Europe into the southern United Kingdom. They lay their eggs, and when the new generation grows up, the young hoverflies fly south in the fall.The benefits to farmers are huge. Combined, the populations of the two most common species of hoverfly, Episyrphus balteatus and Eupeodes corollae, transport about the same amount of pollen as do all the honey bees in the United Kingdom, Chapman and colleagues report today in Current Biology.Perhaps more importantly, the larvae of hoverflies eat about 20% of the aphids in an average wheat field—a total of 6 trillion aphids, the researchers estimate. “The numbers really blew my mind,” Chapman says.And unlike many kinds of pollinators, the populations of the two migratory hoverfly species seem stable, the team found. “It’s quite nice to have a good-news story,” Chapman says.Still, he says, farmers should avoid spraying insecticides when they are present. The skies are filled with more than birds and airplanes, he says. “Insect migration is happening on a massive scale and it’s really important. It’s this huge underappreciated phenomenon.” By Erik StokstadJun. 13, 2019 , 11:00 AM Half a billion hoverflies migrate to the United Kingdom each year. The benefits to farmers are huge Each year, hundreds of millions of hoverflies cross the English Channel from continental Europe, according to a new radar-based study. Most migratory insects around the world are pests, such as locusts, but luckily for U.K. farmers, the hoverflies are friends.“The potential benefit is quite large,” says Ben Woodcock, an entomologist with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, in Wallingford, U.K., who was not involved in the study. Many hoverfly species pollinate crops, he notes, and their larvae consume aphids, which are pests of wheat and other crops.Most insect migrations are invisible to the naked eye. But researchers can track and identify them with narrow radar beams. In 2016, a group using the technology and led by ecologist Jason Chapman at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom reported that trillions of insects migrate in and out of the country each year.center_img Email Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! 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