Flies or dipteria covers quite a gamut of flying insects. Here I’m not talking about blue bottles but insects like hoverflies, drone flies and bee flies. These eat nectar and/or pollen of certain flowers and help us with pollination.
But that’s not the only reason why they’re a welcome addition to the garden. Although adult hoverflies are mainly flower specialists, consuming nectar or pollen, hoverfly larvae are mostly carnivorous. The larvae of some hoverfly species eat aphids. Hurrah! While the larvae of some other species, such the drone fly, live in stagnant pools of water where they consume bacteria. Points for them too. Also some files are an essential part of the food chain that support insectivorous birds such as warblers and robins.
Typical diptera mouthparts are made up of a short fleshy tube they use to suck up liquid or semi-liquid food. Some also ingest pollen. Because the tube is quite short, diptera tend to visit small, flat flowers which present their nectar openly.
Many flowers of the carrot or umbellifer family (Apiaceae), are like this. A few great ones for the garden – that are also really easy to grow – are:
- Orlaya grandiflora – finely cut foliage and produces umbels of tiny pure-white flowers surrounded by showier white petals.
- Ammi visnaga – forms flat, dense heads of green-white flowers set against ferny, green foliage.
- Bupleurum griffithii 'Decor' – lime-green with tiny flowers surrounded by a ruff of zigzagged bracts.