On a surprisingly warm sunny late October afternoon I'm standing alongside a tall hedgerow that is draped in ivy bearing  masses of greenish-yellow  flowers and developing fruits, or berries.

Attracted by abundant nectar, dozens of wasps, assorted hoverfly species, bluebottles, other flies and a few ivy-bees, a new species to Britain, swarm over the berries, pollinating as they feed.

Common and Harlequin ladybirds are here too, probably hoping to pick off an aphid or greenfly. Often comma and red admiral butterflies venture out of hibernation on sunny days such as this and imbibe nectar to top up energy reserves to see them through the winter.

The late summer brood of the holly blue butterfly lays eggs on the globular berries and the larvae bore into them to feed inside. Often tiny holes can be seen in the berries where the caterpillars have burrowed. When fully fed the larvae crawl down and pupate in the soil.

The purplish-black berries don't fully ripen until about late December when redwings and woodpigeons target them.

Folklore tells us that like holly, ivy was claimed to have magical powers so was used as a Christmas decoration, the superstition being that goblins and demons were at their most mischievous in mid-winter so both holly and ivy together would restrict their activities.

So, ivy is a very beneficial plant.