Pollinator effectiveness and fruit set in common ivy, Hedera helix (Araliaceae)
Jacobs, Jennifer H.
Clark, Suzanne J.
Osborne, Juliet L.
Flowers of common ivy (Hedera helix L.) provide late season pollen and nectar for several insect groups, and its fruits are a winter and spring food source for frugivorous birds. Ivy benefits from insect pollination in order to set fruit, but it is unknown which flower-visiting insects are the most effective pollinators. Our observations suggest that Vespula wasps are potentially the most effective pollinators since they were frequent visitors, had relatively fast foraging rates, carried large numbers of pollen grains on their bodies and had the highest 'Pollination potential PP index' score (a measure of pollinator effectiveness) of all the insect groups examined. There was also a positive linear relationship between the proportion of ivy flowers that set fruit and wasp foraging activity in 0.5 m(2) quadrats. Visits by Vespula wasps may therefore be important for ensuring a supply of ivy fruits for birds.