USFS Pollinator of the Month: Flies and Flowers Article

Flies and Flowers: An Enduring Partnership

by Carol Ann Kearns

The association between flies and flowers has a long history. Flies and beetles have been implicated as the primary pollinators of the earliest flowering plants. Many of these plants were also visited by bees and thrips as secondary pollinators, but pollination by birds, butterflies, moths, and bats appeared only in more recently evolved plant families. Fossils dating back to the late Jurassic period, around a hundred and fifty million years ago, indicate the presence of Diptera with elongate mouthparts similar to the mouthparts of modern-day nectar-feeding species. These findings suggest a pre-Cretaceous origin of flowering plants, or possibly fly adaptations for feeding at the reproductive structures of other early plants.

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