Pollinators are obvious keystone species in most terrestrial environments. Although bees are the best-known pollinators, many flies also perform this function. The most important such group is probably the family Syrphidae, commonly known as hover flies or flower flies.

Syrphidae are one of the largest families of flies in the world, with 5,800 described species worldwide. They are becoming increasingly popular with naturalists because of their bright colors (most are mimics of wasps and bees), large size, and great diversity. They are the “new birds” in Europe, where field guides are being produced for people eager for a new challenge in nature watching. In North America, much of the syrphid fauna is still undescribed or little-known, and field guides for species identification are virtually non-existent.

Syrphids in the Santa Monica Mountains offer a good opportunity to explore for basic biodiversity research (i.e., inventory), pollination studies, and public interaction. In 2009-2010, researchers with the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County conducted field surveys to expand the knowledge and build upon the existing collections of syrphids. A photographic guide of the local syrphids was produced as a result of the surveys.

Learn more about flower flies by visiting the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County's Flower Fly Survey website.