Efforts to protect a critically endangered insect from extinction have been given a ‘game changing’ boost thanks to a brand-new breeding centre.
The pine hoverfly is a native species that has not been seen in the wild in its adult form for more than eight years in the UK.
The British population is currently restricted to a single site in the Cairngorms National Park and the new RZSS facility will provide vital space for zookeepers to care for more hoverflies than ever before following a record-breaking breeding season in 2020.
The purpose-built house includes a larval rearing room, an adult flight room with large enclosures for the adult hoverflies to fly and mate in, and an area for staff to prepare the abundance of flowers the adult hoverflies need for food.
Staff at wildlife conservation charity The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland say the new centre at Scotland’s Highland Wildlife Park is a significant step forward for the species’ survival.
Dr Helen Taylor, RZSS conservation programme manager, said, “Having this new facility is a total game-changer for our critical conservation breeding programme.
“We are so grateful to our funders for supporting this development at such a challenging time.
“Tiny species like the pine hoverfly are easily overlooked, but invertebrates are crucial to healthy ecosystems and are disappearing at an alarming rate.
“Animals like pine hoverflies play key roles in ecosystems, from pollination to decomposition, as well as providing an important food source to many other species.
“The more invertebrate species we lose, the less well our ecosystems will be able to support the animals that depend on them, including humans.
“We completed the facility just in time to move our pine hoverfly pupae into their new space before they started emerging as adult hoverflies.”
This new pine hoverfly facility was made possible by several funders, including a donation of £20,000 from Marvelous Europe Inc. as part of the campaign for their latest game release Story of Seasons: Pioneers of Olive Town, alongside support from The National Geographic Society, Cairngorms National Park Authority, Forestry and Land Scotland, and NatureScot.