The three or four dark green, blunt, floppy basal leaves, are very shiny on the upper surface. The stem is spindly, 15-60cm tall, and bears one or two small leaves. There are two to ten (rarely up to 20), well-spaced flowers, which bear an astonishing resemblance to an insect. 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. There is a distinctive form - var. ochroleuca och- which has all green flowers and a white speculum. Flowers with yellow bordered lips are also occasionally recorded. Peloric flowers with multiple lips are not uncommon.
The hybrid with Early Spider- Orchid has been recorded in Kent, and with Bee Orchid in both Avon and West Sussex.
Grows in open woodland, notably the Beech 'hangers' which are a feature of the North Downs of Kent and Surrey. In northern England, it is found up to 400m, and in Anglesey it grows in calcareous flushes and fens. It also grows on limestone pavement and on the wet margins of the seasonal lakes (turloughs) in the Burren in Ireland.
The plant secretes sex pheromones that attract male Digger Wasps. The wasps attempt to copulate with the flowers, resulting in pollinia being stuck to their heads. Once the female wasps emerge, some two weeks after the males, the Fly Orchids are left alone. Ants also remove pieces of pollinia, probably as food, and may act as accidental pollinators.
Many sites were lost prior to 1930, since when it has continued to decrease due to scrub encroachment and woodland clearance.
DistributionEditIn England, grows primarily in the south, from Kent to Dorset, in the Cotswolds and Chilterns, north to Yorkshire and Westmorland. It grows on Anglesey in Wales, and in central Ireland and the western counties of Clare and Galway.Var. ochroleuca has been recorded in Hampshire,Wiltshire and Kent, and flowers with yellow-bordered lips in Surrey, Hampshire and Anglesey.
Height of the flower is 15-60 cm and the amount of flowers the plant has is between 2 and 10 flowers
also this plant flowers between May and June.