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These Tiny Pollinators Can Travel Surprisingly Huge Distances

by Scientific American
September 7th 2022
It turns out that hoverflies may fly hundreds or even thousands of miles—all to help pollinate our flowers and vegetables.
This is anna CASS Berrien, host and executive producer of the young Turks, the largest online progressive new show in the world. Today's episode is brought to you by naked wines. Here's a dirty little secret. The wine industry wants to create as much distance between you and the winemaker as possible, scandalous, we know, and it ends up costing you money in the end because they fill all that space with mark ups, fees and price raising middlemen. In fact, by the time you buy it, it's likely that they've sold that same bottle of wine twice or even three times before naked wines connects you directly to the world's best independent winemakers and their award winning wines. So you can cut out the middlemen and get great wines at an honest price up to 60% off. In fact, take back control of the way you wine and get closer to the winemaker, find out more and try the new way to wine at us dot naked wines dot com slash podcast, drink responsibly. And be sure to listen to the young Turks on apple podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. This is scientific American's 62nd Science.

I'm Christopher Antalya. To when you think of pollinators, What comes to mind, bees, butterflies, maybe hummingbirds. Well, how about flies, flies in general are the second most important group of pollinating insects, so I think that they deserve more credit than than they often get. C scott Clem is an insect Ecologist at the University of Georgia and he's been studying a type of fly known as a hover fly. You may have actually seen them before masquerading as bees and wasps. They tend to be yellow and black colored and they're kind of different from other flies in that regard. There are these little insects that you often find visiting flowers or sometimes they'll actually land on your skin seeking the salt on your skin By studying isotopes in the insects, legs and wings. Clematis colleagues have now determined that some of these flies make a remarkable autumn migration. They seem to originate near Ontario Canada and then they fly hundreds of miles south to central Illinois.

And it's possible that some go even further. Thousands of miles. Perhaps they get up in high altitude air currents, they're able to just surf on these winds basically. And it takes them these these vast distances. The results appear in the journal ecological monographs. As for why the flies migrate. Well, Clem says they might be pursuing the aphids, they eat southward or maybe they're following the blooms of nectar rich flowers. And if they're moving, they could be moving these ecological services across the continent on an annual basis. The scientists write that the flies could be transporting billions of grains of pollen across the continent all while working to exterminate pests. So even if hover flies be like appearance is mere mimicry. The ecological services they provide could very well be the real deal. Thanks for listening for scientific American 62nd Science. I'm Christopher and Todd Yata

These Tiny Pollinators Can Travel Surprisingly Huge Distances
These Tiny Pollinators Can Travel Surprisingly Huge Distances
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