This project is closed for winter - open again in 2023
Night-flying insects like moths, beetles, flies (even mosquitoes) provide pollination to flowers that stay open at night. The strong perfumes of plants like honeysuckle and jasmine specifically evolved to draw in moths in the darkness. Recent work has suggested that nocturnal insect pollination might be more important than we thought (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/09/180918110914.htm), but in general we don't know a huge amount about how much pollination is provided by nocturnal insects, or what effects our own changes to the nighttime landscape (with streetlights or garden lamps) might have.
The Buzz Club are going to investigate!
There are two broad parts to the project, and we're trying out various ideas within these:
1) Night-time counts
Last year we looked at nocturnal insects that could be found in different places in gardens (see our latest newsletter for results). In 2022 we're going to focus specifically on insects seen in flowers at night.
2) Garden light effects on pollination
This section is still in development.
Year(s): 2020 -
Status? In development /
Project lead contact:
1) Night-time counts
Polli-Nightors: Walk (2022)
Most of us are - understandably - not as familiar with the nocturnalvisitors to our gardens as we are with the daytime cohort. Thus we want our members to get to know the night-time invertebrates that live in or visit their gardens. You don’t need to invest in special equipment or have a big garden to take part (the minimum is a flowering plant present outside).
The plan is to head outside when it has gone dark where you live with a torch. Record any inverebrates that you see on flowering plants, and if there is anything obvious they are doing (e.g. feeding).
Make a note of what you see, either using a notebook or a printed recording sheet. Identify the inverebrates to the best level of detail you can – or even better, take photos – but don’t worry if you can’t do more than e.g. 'beetle' (many inverebrates are hard to ID).
The aim is to do a Polli-Nightors: Walk once a week during spring and summer (May – September). Do as many weeks as you can,
but don't worry if you can't do all of them.
An example of a Polli-Nightors: Walk recording sheet ->
(Below) A selection of photos of plant-visiting invertebrates from last year.
Frequently Asked Questions - Polli-Nightors: Walk:
1. I wasn't able to start in May / only just found this project / missed a week. Is this a probem?
Nope! While we would ideally like as many records over the full time period as possible, we recognise that this might be a big ask. Do what you can, and just make sure to fill in the dates on your recording sheet.
2. I'm not very experienced in insect identification, and it's even more difficult in the dark. Can I still take part?
Yes! We recognise that identifying insects is tricky enough in daylight, so the project focuses on insects that have landed on flowers / are spotted on plants. Please take photographs if you can - particularly if you are uncertain what you are looking at. The Buzz Team have a lot of exprience of identifying insects, so let us do the tricky bit if you're needing help.
3. I want to do more detailed identification.
You are very welcome to do so! Since Polli-Nightors is intended to get an idea of abundances, and get members familiar with their visitors, so we are not requring that participants do detailed species ID - but go for it if you want to, and we'll help out with any identifying any photos you take.
This is because there is excellent UK-wide work being done by specialist recorders that cover night-flying insects – particularly Butterfly Conservation’s “Moth Count”, and we don’t want to double up effort. If you want to expand your nocturnal entomology endevours, BBC Springwatch have a good blog post on moth trapping for beginners.
2) Nocturnal plant pollination