You are being invited to take part in an academic research study. Before you decide to participate in this study, it is important that you understand why the research is being done and what it will involve. Please take the time to read the following information carefully.

Purpose of the research

The aim of this research is to learn more about the role of nocturnal moths as pollinators, particularly in gardens and other human-dominated landscapes. Your observations of moths interacting with flowers will contribute new information about which moths visit which plant species, what colour flowers they prefer, and when they are most active, helping us to build a better picture of nighttime pollination. In addition, knowing which moths occur in our gardens and which plants they favour might suggest gardening practices that would be beneficial to nocturnal moths, many of which are experiencing severe declines.

Who is doing this research?

The lead researcher is Emmanuelle Briolat, a research fellow in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, Department of Biosciences. The other researchers involved in this project are Dr Jolyon Troscianko, Prof Kevin Gaston, Dr Jon Bennie and Dr Jim Galloway.

Ethical review of this research

This study has been reviewed by the University of Exeter’s Research Ethics Committee and received a favourable review (reference number:).

Procedures of this study

For this study, you’ll need to search a safe outdoor space for 10 minutes at night record any moths you see interacting flowers, then compete the survey or form linked below. You can contribute by recording moths from anywhere in the world, at any time of night from dusk to dawn, until October 2024.

How to search for moths:

  1. Find a safe space to survey at night, whether a private garden or other secure space. Ensure you have the landowner’s permission to be there, and take a friend if you’re in a shared space. Children should only take part alongside a responsible adult. Please take care in the dark – don’t survey in public areas, watch you step, always carry a torch and wear sturdy footwear and warm clothing to stay safe and cosy!
  2. Record the date, time and postcode of the area, and take note of the lighting conditions: can you see the moon? is it cloudy or clear? are there artificial lights nearby?
  3. Use a torch to search flowering plants in the area for 10 minutes. If you have one, a red light is less likely to disturb the moths you encounter.
  4. If you see a moth landing on a flower, or hovering around it and feeding (probing with its long feeding tube, or proboscis), it could potentially be acting as a pollinator for that plant! Note the flower colour, flower species (if you can), and number of moths of that type on that kind of flower. Please don’t count any moths that are just flying around without attempting to feed, or landing on leaves and branches. If you like, you can use a butterfly net and a clear pot to briefly catch the moths to get a closer look or take a photograph, to help you identify them to family or species level. Stop your timer when you are observing or catching a moth, and restart it when you resume searching.
  5. Submit your records using our online form below, or, if you prefer, you can download a paper copy to return by email or post.

You can take part as many times as you like throughout the summer, from multiple locations or the same place – it’s likely you’ll see different interactions as new flowers bloom, new species of moths emerge.

Benefits & risks of taking part

There is unlikely to be any direct or personal benefit to you in taking part, other than discovering more about the secret lives of wildlife in your area. The study aims to have some benefit to society, by developing knowledge of nocturnal plant-pollinator interactions and increasing public awareness of nocturnal pollinators, but this cannot be assured at the start of the research project. There are no risks to taking part greater than you would encounter on a daily basis in your normal life. If you feel any discomfort or doubt, you can stop at any time before completing the survey.

Voluntary participation and your right to withdraw

Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary. You are under no obligation to take part and can stop at any time. If you stop before submitting the survey, your information will not be saved and you will not have completed the survey. Withdrawal after submission is not possible as your responses, once submitted, will not be identifiable to the researchers to enable removal from the data set.


Your name and contact details are not provided by the survey referrer to the researcher. Your responses to the survey are therefore anonymous; there will be no specific personal information to identify you. Your responses to this survey are not subject to GDPR as there is no personally identifiable data.

The data controller for this research is the University of Exeter. You may contact the Information Governance office of the University of Exeter by emailing

University of Exeter Data Protection for Research Statement

The Results

Results will be published or presented in academic papers or presentations. If you wish to be updated about the results of this study please email Dr Emmanuelle Briolat at


By submitting this survey, you confirm the following statements:

  • I have read and understand the information provided above.
  • I understand that my participation is voluntary.
  • I understand that I may withdraw and stop participating at any time during the survey.
  • I understand that there will be no negative consequences for withdrawal.
  • I understand that once submitted my data s anonymous and cannot be withdrawn later.