Most of the self-sown Welsh poppies have finished flowering but this plant, tucked in a paving crack under the garden table, has one flower left. Glistening in a beam of sunlight, the flower had caught the attention of a passing hoverfly.
The fly was working its way methodically around the ring of stamens, using one of its front feet to brush pollen from each anther towards its mouth. This was new to me – I thought hoverflies only fed on nectar – but apparently it is a well known fact that they also eat pollen. Some species of hoverfly are specialised pollen feeders and in other species female flies stock up on protein by feeding on pollen before laying eggs.
There are some great photos and fascinating facts on the website of the Urban Pollinators Project . That’s where I learnt that poppies don’t produce nectar. Instead they tempt hoverflies with abundant pollen, relying on stray grains stuck to the fly’s feet or body after its meal to pollinate the next flower it visits.