Aspen Hoverfly (Hammerschmidtia ferruginea) ©Iain MacGowan/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or


Beetles are the dominant insect group globally, but flies – including gnats, midges and mosquitoes – are more abundant in temperate regions.

In the British Isles, there are about 7,000 species of the order Diptera, meaning ‘two wings’.

Scotland is home of two hoverflies of special interest because of their rarity and which have special conservation efforts put together to protect them.

Learn about these hoverflies on the NBN Atlas Scotland website:

Other important fly species in Scotland are:

Fly larvae are found mostly in moist places: soil, water, plants, carrion, dung and deadwood.

Ecosystem roles

Many flies are nectar feeders and play an important role as pollinators. For example, hoverflies are familiar garden visitors.

Other fly species feed on decaying matter, so help to recycle dung and carrion.

Problem species

Some fly species cause serious health problems. For example, mosquitoes can transmit deadly diseases such as yellow fever, malaria and sleeping sickness.

In Scotland, midges can be a major nuisance because of their numbers in summer but are important to the food chain.

Find out about midges and their distribution on the NBN Atlas Scotland website.

Protection of invertebrates

Find out about our protected species of invertebrate.

Learn about protected invertebrate species and licensing.