Country diary: wasps lead the dance at the year’s last flower festival

Wenlock Edge, Shropshire: I can only imagine how powerful the sweetness of ivy flowers is to insects with high-energy lives

On the brightest of days, the road into autumn is a frenetic gyratory for wasps, bees and hoverflies around outcrops of ivy. The yellows and browns of their bodies are the colours of changing leaves, the blur of their wings is mist over rivers, the sound of their flight is of the last crazy dance of the year fuelled by an intoxicant that makes them invulnerable.

Whether the insects sense that this is the last of the fine weather, as the forecasters predict, they are joining the dots between ivy flowers that open in the final fling of warm sunshine. Arranged in five or more umbels on each stem, there are 20 or so flowers in each. The individual flower is a green knob enclosed by five sepals that roll back to cup an inner orb. Between the sepals, five yellow stamens spring out above the central stigma, and the orb is sticky with nectar.

Related: English ivy: berry good for birds


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