School of Life Sciences


Create a hoverfly lagoon in your school garden to support pollinators

Researchers at the University of Sussex are looking for primary schools to take part in a new citizen science project, aiming to create habitats that allow hoverflies to thrive. 

In recent years, there has been much concern about the decline of pollinators in the UK and across the world, potentially leading to a ‘pollination crisis’ affecting flowering plants and crop yields. Most of the attention has been focussed on bees, which are vital pollinators and do need to be conserved, but other pollinators, including hoverflies, are similarly important and are disappearing from our countryside.

A number of species of hoverfly have an aquatic larval stage, and the habitat they need, such as water-filled holes in trees called rot holes, is now rarely found in gardens. This project aims to get schools and school children creating small homemade hoverfly lagoons from discarded milk bottles and fallen leaves. Taking part requires no extra knowledge or experience, just a few minutes each month to count larvae and collect pupae, once the lagoon is set up.

The project is being run by Dr Ellen Rotheray in the School of Life Sciences, a member of the charity The Buzz Club. “The Hoverfly Lagoons project is a very quick, easy and cheap way of creating wildlife friendly habitat in your garden or green space. Lagoons are messy fun, and can be packed full of long-tailed larvae to discover, which like butterflies, as if by magic, develop into some of the most stunning and aerobatic animals in the insect world.”

There are over 6000 species of hoverfly worldwide, 280 of which live in the UK. This project encourages curiosity in children about insects, pollinators, life cycles, and nature, with the goal that Hoverfly Lagoons become common features of wildlife gardens and school wildlife areas across the UK. In addition to this, the project aims to discover what type of lagoon attracts and supports the most hoverfly species.

The hoverfly lagoon schools project is now open for participants. To find out more about building a hoverfly lagoon, and sign up, go to, or email Dr Ellen Rotheray at

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By: Jessica Gowers
Last updated: Thursday, 12 October 2017