Do you have common ivy in your garden?

Have you seen a patch of mature common ivy (Hedera helix) flowering near you? Do you have a couple of minutes each week to film what insects are visiting the ivy flowers?

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A native potter wasp on ivy flowers.

A new international collaborative research project is looking at what insects visit ivy flowers in its native (UK) and introduced range. Ivy flowers in autumn, so it is an important pollen source for many pollinator insects as the winter months approach. In its introduced range where the plant has become invasive, information on its pollinators could help develop effective control methods.

The citizen science project is led by Fergus Chadwick (Trinity College, Dublin) and Professor Jeff Ollerton (University of Northampton). Dr Manu Saunders and Amy-Marie Gilpin (both University of New England) will be managing the Australian arm of the project.

The project needs citizen scientists to contribute weekly videos of insects visiting their local ivy patch!

Citizen Science Project Monitoring the Pollinators of Ivy

You can use any technology you like, even a smartphone. You just have to film at the same spot once a week during the flowering season and upload your video via the project’s Facebook page with some information about the location. Please make sure to read all the details in manual linked to below before getting started – it’s important that everyone’s contributions are filmed in the same way so we can compare data. We prefer videos to be uploaded on the Facebook page; however, if you are not a FB user and still want to contribute, you can email us your video and data to ivypollinatorsaustralia@gmail.com.

Ivy has already started flowering in some parts of Australia, so you may have missed the first few weeks! But please join in anyway – the project will continue again next year and you will have the opportunity to contribute to the full season then.

Note: Ivy is an introduced species and can be invasive in many parts of Australia. Therefore, we are not promoting planting of new ivy plants. This project is based on observations of established ivy plants.

If you are not sure whether you have found Hedera helix, visit this page for some photos and ID tips.

If you would like to get involved, please visit the project’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/PollinatorsofIvyMonitoringProjectAustralia/. You can find details on the project and how you can get involved in this document. Or you can email the project team at ivypollinatorsaustralia@gmail.com.

And don’t forget the National Wild Pollinator Count is on again soon, at its usual time. You can join in by counting pollinators on any flowering plants (not just ivy!) between 9-16 April.

 

Wild pollinator gardens

Our next wild pollinator count is on again in April. Pollinators in autumn?! Yes, spring and summer are generally when we think of wild pollinators. But they are around in autumn too, and they will be looking for plenty of resources to build their nests and provide for the next generation. Is your garden ready?

Flowers, the obvious first step!

  • Many online pollinator flower guides are for northern hemisphere gardens, so most recommend plants that are not native to Australia. But most of these flowers are still great for attracting wild pollinators here, especially fragrant herbs like lavender, salvia, coriander and basil.
  • If you prefer a native garden, the Rural Industries and Regional Development Corporation has released a free-to-download guide to planting for pollinators. It is aimed at honey bees but is also relevant to wild pollinators, and provides handy information on seasonal flowering times and regional differences.
  • Plan flowers for every season, so your garden can sustain pollinator populations throughout the year. Also choose modern hybrid varieties carefully, as some have been bred for quantity (size and fullness) not quality (nectar and perfume).
  • Plant a riot of colour! There is no single best colour for pollinators, as different insects have different levels of colour vision, and other factors like nectar and flower shape also determine whether a pollinator visits.

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