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Polli-
Nightors

This project is OPEN for 2021

Night-flying insects like moths, beetles (and even mosquitoes) provide pollination to flowers that stay open at night, and 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!

Last year we tried out a few approaches, and are planning to iterate on those this year.  There will still be two parts to the project, but we've tweaked what they do:

1) Night-time observations

2) Garden light effects on pollination

Name:            Polli-Nightors

Year(s):           2020 -

Focus?           Nocturnal
                       pollination

Status?          In development /
                        Open

Project lead contact:

Linda Birkin

Project summary

Interested in doing Polli-Nightors? 🌙🦋

1) Night-time observations


Most of us are - understandably - not as familiar with the nocturnal visitors to our gardens as we are with the daytime cohort.  Thus, as part of the development of this project, we want our members to get to know the night-time insects that live in, or visit, their gardens.  We aren't asking you to invest in expensive kit or spend hours prowling your flowerbeds in the dark; just to get a better idea of what you can encounter.

Do you have lots of moths?  Do you get a lot of flies? Do you not see very much at all?  The Buzz Club team will help provide identification - even better if you are able to snap a quick photograph.

The protocol is to head outside an hour or so after sunset with a torch and see what you can see.  There are several easy places to look, depending on what spaces you have access to.

We would like you to look once a week for a month / 4 weeks, and repeat this in May, July, and September 2021.  Being able to do any of these months would be great, but if you can do more than one, that would be ideal - that way we can see how the insect population of your garden changes across the year.  Is May for Moths?  July the Mosquito Month?  September a Surprise?  We'd like to find out!

(If you want to go into more detail in your recording, BBC Springwatch have a good blog post on moth trapping for beginners).

Places to look

On a garden-facing window.  Leave a curtain open and a light on, and see what lands on the window, attracted by the light.  This is a fairly passive search, so we suggest keeping an eye on the window over the course of an hour (e.g. check every 10 min).

By an outside light.  Insects will be attracted to and around outside lamps (e.g. security lights), so you can stand nearby and observe visitors.  We suggest doing this for 10 minutes.

On a garden walk.  Take a torch and walk slowly around the garden with the beam in front of you.  See what you spot flying across the light.  10 minutes.

On a plant.  Pick a plant that should be attractive to night insects – pale flowers and strong scent are good indicators (such as jasmine or honeysuckle).  Using a torch, see what insects you find visiting the flowers.  10 minutes.

2) Nocturnal strawbery pollination

(coming soon)

School of Life Sciences, JMS Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton

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