Wednesday 24 September 2008

Ivy fest!

The end of September is the time of the year when I like to visit an old ivy growing on a south-facing brick wall. Today was the first day I saw it flowering for good. Ivy (Hedera helix) is an unusual plant in that its flowering season starts with the beginning of autumn. Given the scarcity of alternative sources or nectar at a this crucial time of the year - when many insects are getting ready for winter dormancy, egg laying or migration, this marks a food bonanza for many insects, the final feast of the year. Drone flies (Eristalis) and green and bluebottles, hover-flies, wasps, honey bees, queen bumblebees, butterflies (Red Admirals, Small Tortoishells, Painted Ladies, Large and Small Whites, Commas) buzz on the green-yellow ivy flowers.
Myathropa florea
Helophilus pendulus

Syrphus sp.

Bluebottle, Calliphora vomitoria
Eristalis tenax
Above, an illustration of the diversity of hoverflies who use Ivy

Red Admiral
And all them must keep watch for garden spiders, who never say no to a juicy hover-fly...
By the beginning of December the Ivy flowers are gone and the berries start to grow.
 This is one of the last ivy blooms of the year, with a late red admiral (photo taken 30/10/2006):

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