by Eric F. LoPresti
|An Anna’s Hummingbird visits the flower of the sticky columbine Aquilegia eximia. Photo by author.|
Lots of plants have sticky exudates which entrap small insects. This phenomenon is most famous and well-studied in carnivorous plants, but also occurs in thousands of non-carnivorous plants. While studying the sticky columbine, Aquilegia eximia, I noticed that hummingbirds were occasionally picking dead insects off the plants’ surfaces. As hummingbirds are also the primary (perhaps sole) pollinators of this species, I wondered whether this proteinaceous reward might influence pollination success of the columbine.