Beneficial Bug: The Hover Fly

Familiar garden predators like ladybugs and praying mantises often get all the credit for controlling bad bugs. Check out what this largely unsung backyard hero can do.

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Hoverfly on a Green Leaf

This critter resembles a small bee, but it's a bona fide member of the fly family. It doesn't sting. Like flies, it has two wings rather than four. But unlike many other insects, it executes telltale aerial maneuvers: it can suspend flight in mid-air, then dart quickly backward, forward or sideways.

In spring you can often find the young adults visiting flowers and foliage. Avoid using pesticides — even insecticidal soaps — and you'll likely see more. It's good to have this insect patrolling your garden. As a significant pollinator and bad-bug eater, the hover fly is an especially good friend to anyone who grows vegetables and fruits.

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