Pine hoverfly on a plant IMAGE: Jess Wise 2022

Invertebrates are in decline globally and RZSS is determined to stand up for the little guys when it comes to species conservation. The pine hoverfly (Blera fallax) is so rare in the UK that an adult spotted in 2022 was the first seen in the wild in nearly a decade.

In the UK, this critically endangered insect is currently restricted to just one site – a small forest patch in the Cairngorms in Scotland. To help boost the population of this important pollinator, RZSS has undertaken an ambitious conservation breeding project for the species to support releases into the Scottish Highlands.  

Breeding pine hoverflies in captivity is no small task, but our amazingly dedicated team of keepers at Highland Wildlife Park has spent years creating a successful breeding programme.

This species has three life stages – larva, pupa, and adult – which each require a different habitat. We raise our larvae in jam jars filled with a pine sawdust mulch that mimics the pine rot holes they rely on in the wild, the flies pupate in moss, housed in empty hummus pots and adults live in special flight enclosures for mating and egg laying.

So far, thousands of larvae and eggs have been released into the Cairngorms National Park. Each individual pine hoverfly larva and egg is a lifeline for our native population and, collectively, these little insects have a huge positive impact on forest ecosystems, acting both as pollinators and waste removers. 

Our Partners

Project type

Conservation translocation icons

Conservation translocation

The team

Carl Allott

Carl Allott

Conservation project officer

Georgina Lindsay

Georgina Lindsay

Conservation manager

Magdalena Butowska

Magdalena Butowska

Genomics technician (RZSS WildGenes)

Dr Heather Ritchie-Parker

Dr Heather Ritchie-Parker

Research scientist (RZSS WildGenes)

Helen Taylor releasing dark bordered beauty moths

IMAGE: Jess Wise 2023

Dr Helen Taylor

Conservation programme manager

Project updates

Date: November 2023

The pine hoverfly steering group won the RSPB Nature Scot Nature of Scotland

Innovation Award, recognising the huge amount of work we and our partners have put into saving the critically endangered pine hoverfly.

NatureScot award evening


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