Environment: Important pollinator group partly threatened with extinction

More than a third of the hoverfly species important as pollinators in Europe are threatened with extinction.

Environment: Important pollinator group partly threatened with extinction

More than a third of the hoverfly species important as pollinators in Europe are threatened with extinction. The World Conservation Union (IUCN), which publishes the Red List of Threatened Species, reported on Tuesday. Climate change, intensive agriculture, harmful insect repellents and unsustainable commercial use of forests are the greatest threats. According to the IUCN assessment, 314 of the 890 European hoverfly species already belong to one of the top three endangerment categories.

Hoverflies (Syrphidae) are best known for their hovering flight: They can practically stay in one place while flying, even in windy conditions. They are the second most important pollinator group after bees. The larvae feed on aphids, thereby controlling pest populations. The study was commissioned by the EU Commission.

The insects only have a chance if the economy, and above all agriculture, is transformed and made sustainable, said Bruno Oberle, Director General of the IUCN. Wetlands where hoverflies live need to be protected. Forests with old trees and fallen trunks are important for the larvae. Delimiting fields with strips of wildflowers or hedges also helps. Greenhouse gases would also have to be reduced for the benefit of insects and ecosystems restored.

The Red List, which has been in existence since 1964, contains more than 41,000 animal and plant species that are threatened with extinction. The IUCN classifies studied species into eight categories, ranging from "data insufficient" to "extinct". "Endangered" is level 5.

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