Hoverflies are a large, beautiful, and exceptionally diverse family of insects. As the second most important pollinator group behind bees, they are also essential to our lives, providing an ecosystem service that forms the very foundation of our food system and indeed our lives.
According to the first continent-wide assessment of this essential pollinator group on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, thirty-seven per cent of all hoverfly species in Europe are threatened with extinction. Intensive agriculture and harmful pesticides, unsustainable commercial forestry, urban development and climate change have been identified as the main threats to hoverflies.
The European Red List assessment by Safeguard partner IUCN found that 314 out of 890 species in Europe are Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered. Intensive agriculture is the most common threat to hoverflies across Europe, affecting more than half (475) of all 890 species. Unsustainable farming practices that impact hoverflies include land conversion of suitable habitat, habitat degradation by livestock overgrazing and the fragmentation of natural and semi-natural habitats. Targeted area-based conservation measures are needed to protect key hoverfly habitats, especially wetlands, ancient woodlands that are home to old trees, and also semi-natural habitats outside of formally protected areas.