Flowering Ivy - An Insect Bonanza

02nd October 2012
My daughter phoned me yesterday to tell me that the ivy on her house was an "insect bonanza", covered with honeybees, hoverflies, butterflies and others. I went round armed with my camera, to see what I could photograph.

The "bonanza" description was true. The south-facing wall of her house has a good covering of flowering ivy and it was swarming with insect life. A reasonable proportion were Honeybee (Apis mellifera) workers (image, top left). Ivy (Hedera helix) has a late flowering season and this makes it a valuable source of nectar for many insects, when other plants have finished flowering.

The majority of insects were hoverflies. I could recognise several Eristalis species, Helophilus (possibly Helophilus pendulus) and some I wasn't so sure about. One of the larger ones (middle left) turns out to be Myathropa florea (thanks to on Wildlife Ranger on iSpot for the ID). The pattern of grey spots and bars on the thorax and the yellow body hairs, help to identify the species.

There were several Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) butterflies on there too. My daughter had also seen some Hornets earlier, but there were none there while I was photographing. There were Common Wasps (Vespula vulagaris) and some parasitic wasps. I also managed to photograph an Amblyteles wasp (possibly Amblyteles armatorius), a Noon Fly (Mesembrina meridiana), various Calliphorids (Bluebottles and Greenbottles), a Graphomyia fly (I think!) and a Dung Fly. I've added a selection of these images below.

Love it or hate it, Ivy certainly provides much needed food and shelter for many invertebrates. Perhaps in a few years time, the Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae) will have worked its way up to the Midlands. That will provide yet another reason to keep checking local Ivy plants during late summer and early autumn!

[Click on any image for a larger version]

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