Ophrys insectifera Linnaeus, 1753
Common names: Fly Orchid [En], Ophrys mouche [Fr], Vliegenorchis [Nl], Fliegen-Ragwurz [De], Moscaria [It], Orquídea mosca [Es], Οφρύς η εντομοφόρος [Gr]
Visé, LIEGE ● Belgium
Etymology: The name arises because it resembles a fly, being totally dependent on flies and bees for pollination.
Description: Taller, more slender than the other members of the genus. The three sepals are pointed, yellow-green and stiff. The upper petals are wire-like, purple-brown and velvety, looking just like antennae. The lip is long and three-lobed, the lateral lobes rounded. The lip is rich mahogany-brown, velvety in texture, and has a brilliant band of iridescent blue - the speculum - across the middle. There are two glistening patches at the base of the lip that resemble eyes.
Biology: The plants use pheromones to attract male wasps, which pollinate the flowers as they attempt to mate with the flower. Pollinators are Argogorytes mystaceus and A. combinata males (Sphecidae).
Habitat: It is a shade-tolerant tuberous herb usually found on chalk and limestone soils, and, like many orchids, sporadic in its appearance.
Distribution: It is widespread throughout central Europe, but with only scattered records from the Iberian Peninsular, the west Mediterranean, and southern Scandinavia east towards the Urals. As it is not as 'Mediterranean' in its climatic preference, its range extends further north than other Ophrys species.
It is scarce in Britain and in Ireland, absent from Scotland and Northern Ireland. Vulnerable in the UK, it was added to the list of UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species in 2007.
Borg-Karlson A.-K., Groth I., Ågren L. and Kullenberg B., 1993. "Form-specific fragances from Ophrys insectifera L.". Chemoecology (Birkhäuser Basel).
Hultén, E. & Fries, M. 1986. Atlas of north European vascular plants: north of the Tropic of Cancer. 3 vols. Königstein: Koeltz Scientific Books.
Sanford, M. 1991. The orchids of Suffolk. Ipswich: Suffolk Naturalists’ Society.
Botanical Society of the British Isles