Ophrys insectifera is a central European species, stretching from
Habitat and Ecology
Ophrys insectifera can typically be found in fens, grassland, verges, open pine woods and wooded meadows, rarely on peat-bogs. This orchid grows in dry to wet, calcareous to neutral soil in full sunlight to light shade. The flowering time of the species takes place from May to July (Pederson and Faurholdt 2007, Delforge 1995).
male of Argogorytes fargei pollenates or fertilises flower of Ophrys insectifera
Plant / pollenated
male of Argogorytes mystaceus pollenates or fertilises flower of Ophrys insectifera
Plant / pollenated
male of Gorytes pollenates or fertilises flower of Ophrys insectifera
Evolution and Systematics
The flowers of some orchids increase efficiency of pollen transfer because they look or smell like female insects.
"While most flowering plants reward pollinators with tasty nectar, many orchid species turn to trickery. Some use what's called food deception. They produce flowers that look or smell like they offer food, but offer no edible reward. Other orchids use sexual deception. They produce flowers that look or smell like female insects, usually bees or wasps. Males are drawn to the sexy flowers and attempt to mate with it. In doing so, they accidentally collect pollen on their bodies, which fertilizes the next orchid they visit.
"…[Researchers] found that populations of sexually deceptive orchids had higher 'pollen transport efficiency' than the species with multiple pollinators. In other words, a higher percentage of the pollen that was taken from sexually deceptive orchids actually made it to another orchid of the same species. The orchids with multiple pollinators had more pollen taken from their flowers, but more of that pollen was lost -- dropped to the ground or deposited in flowers of the wrong species." (Science Daily 2009)
Learn more about this functional adaptation.
- Scopece G; Cozzolino S; Johnson SD; Schiestl FP. 2010. Pollination efficiency and the evolution of specialized deceptive pollination systems. The American Naturalist. 175(1): 98-105.
- 2009. Orchids' sexual trickery explained: leads to more efficient pollinating system. Science Daily [Internet],
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Ophrys insectifera
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ophrys insectifera
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 4
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
EU 27 regional assessment: Least Concern (LC)
Ophrys insectifera is widespread and occurs in several locations in
Ophrys insectifera is widespread in the central European region but sometimes quite rare. The trend of the populations remains unknown (Pederson and Faurholdt 2007, Delforge 1995). It is locally declining, for example, in the United Kingdom.
Ophrys insectifera is affected by urbanisation, construction work and residential building (Pederson and Faurholdt 2007).
All orchid species are included under Annex B of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This orchid is listed as Critically Endangered on the Bulgarian red list (Petrova and Vladimirov 2009) and Vulnerable on the Croatian red list (NikoliÄ and TopiÄ 2005), but Least Concern on the French red list (UICN France et al. 2010). Recommended conservation measures for Ophrys insectifera are:
- Protection of the living individuals through legislation which bans the species from being picked or dug up.
- Protection of the localities through legal nature conservancy.
- Introducing informal and inexpensive management contracts with the owners of species localities.
- Moderate grazing or forestry, mowing or recurrent burning; to prevent the vegetation to become dominated by more robust and competitive species.
- Monitoring the existing populations and sites.
- Estimate the population size and study their dynamics (Pederson and Faurholdt 2007).
Ophrys insectifera, the fly orchid, is a species of orchid and the type species of the genus Ophrys. It is native to Europe (Codes) and favors sites with alkaline soil. The name arises because its inflorescence resembles a fly, although it is dependent on wasps and bees for pollination. The plants use scent to attract male wasps and bees which pollinate the flowers as they attempt to mate with the flower. The scent released by the flowers mimic female sexual pheromones.
- "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families".
- "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families TDWG Geocodes".
- Borg-Karlson, Anna-Karin; Inga Groth, Lennart Ågren and Bertil Kullenberg (1993). "Form-specific fragances from Ophrys insectifera L.". Chemoecology (Birkhäuser Basel) 4 (1): 39–45. doi:10.1007/BF01245895.