Are you going to plant potatoes this summer? How would you like to able to control those damaging insect pests from ruining your potato plants? Have you ever heard of a Hover Fly? Another name they are called is syrphid flies. You might have mistaken the hover fly for a small wasp, but they do not sting. Their size dimensions are from 1/4 – 1/2 of an inch long. These flies can hover, much like a helicopter does, this is how they got their name.

Hover Fly Eating NectarThe hover fly, just like a hummingbird, will hover over a flower and drink the nectar from the plant. Another beneficial aspect of the hover fly is that they are excellent at pollinating plants. How they control insect pests is the newborn larvae which feeds on the insects. They will hatch on plants which are usually infested with soft bodied insects. some examples of these insect pests would be aphids, mealybugs and even some types of worms and caterpillars.

Just the larvae from one hover fly can consume about 500 damaging insects in a period of one week to ten days before they begin their journey yo adulthood. A female hover fly has the ability to lay one hundred eggs. Out of these eggs there is the possibility for 7 generations being hatched each year. Just imagine how many insect pests they can devour.

The hover fly has the ability to stimulate their reproductive mechanisms based on plants releasing odors. When aphids are attracted to potato plants, the potato plant will secrete an odor which will then attract the hover fly.  Female hover flies will then lay their eggs on the besieged plant. Once the eggs are hatched, the young larvae will start eating the aphids. The best part is the female hover fly will only lay enough of her eggs corresponding to the amount of aphids present.

Other vegetable garden plants that attract hover flies are herbs such as dill, fennel, feverfew, mint and lavender. If you like to plant flowers around the perimeter of your vegetable garden these types also attract the hover fly, marigolds, zinnias, coreopsis, sunflowers and daisies. It is best to plant varieties that will bloom in the spring time, during the summer months and then into fall. This will provide the much needed nectar and pollen for the hover flies to flourish.

Come harvest time and you get a sizeable crop of potatoes from your garden, chances are they were protected by hover flies. No need to use harsh chemicals when you can let nature do the job.



Filed under: Grow Potatoes

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