Q: We live in Forsyth county and have tons of neighbors who farm cows and chickens. There are some very mature holly bushes right in front of our house. In spring they are infested with flying insects – some appear to be either house flies or stable flies – but there are some I don’t know what they are: they have long slim bodies and slender wings. Any ideas on what is happening here and what can we do about them?
A: Holly blooms have lots of nectar in them. My bet is that you’re seeing crowds of different pollinating insects looking for a good springtime meal. I’ve been at Callaway Gardens in the spring when their large hollies emitted a noticeable “hum” from all the insects working the flowers. Even though there were many honeybees in the group I never felt threatened by them. They are MUCH more interested in food than in stinging.
The slender insects are probably harmless thread-waisted wasps seeking nectar from the flowers or perhaps honeydew from aphids or scale insects. They rarely sting, are not aggressive and help the environment too.
I recommend you enjoy all of the pollinators and let them go about their business.