Posted by: Ross Gardner | October 24, 2015


The scattered blooms across a swelling tangle of Bramble; the clear, still water of summer pool; the gap in river-side shrubs and tall herbs.  All situations that have the same thing in common.  They are almost impossible to walk past without closer inspection.  One for butterflies, bees and countless other nectaring insects; the next for the other-wordly oddities of the freshwater realm; the last for thrill of hunting dragonflies or the tantalising possibility of a Kingfisher.

There is another, perhaps less expected thing to be added to this list, certainly for those of an enquiring, entomological bent – the Ivy.  The Ivy flowers in autumn profusion.  It does so however, in rather understated way, with starry globes of small yellowish flowers.  All the same, they may bloom in such abundance as to be expected from such a rampantly climbing plant and offer a fragrance which is not unpleasant and quite subtle.

Crucially, from the point of view of autumn-flying insects (and those with an eye for them) Ivy flowers late in the year, providing an irresistible draw for many a nectar-hungry winged thing still abroad when the night are well and truly drawing in.  It is not often that I willingly surround myself with wasps, but beside one Ivy-thronged Suffolk hedge I felt quite safe from stinging harm, given their preoccupation with the floral bounty before them.  Common Wasp buzzed abundantly from flower to flower, despite the intrusion of my camera lens.  A far deeper droning sound and a handsome Hornet flew past, over my shoulder.  In the chill of last of the late evening daylight, I was quite impressed at the level of activity.  Earlier in the day there would very likely have been Honey Bees and various species of late-flying hoverfly (e.g. Eristalis spp and Helophilus), insects I had seen tending the Ivy flowers elsewhere.

It would not be at all unusual to spend a minute or two watching and seeing a good half a dozen, easily recognised species.

Hornet (Vespa crabro) on Ivy.  Ross Gardner 2015

Hornet (Vespa crabro) on Ivy. Ross Gardner 2015

Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) dusted with Ivy pollen.  Ross Gardner 2015.

Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris) dusted with Ivy pollen. Ross Gardner 2015.


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