We all know the slogan: “Save the Bees!” but now it may be changed to “Save the Moths!” Moths are night-time pollinators and apparently visit just as many plants and flowers during the night as bees do during the day. This new information may change how we view the preservation and protection of insects other than bees and ground organisms. 

A recent study conducted by the University of Sheffield suggests that moths play a crucial role in supporting the livelihood of urban plant communities, accounting for one-third of the flower, plant, and tree pollination. The study continued to reveal that moths have a more complex life cycle and require specific plants for pollination, this makes them less resilient during times of urban pressure than bees. Many urban areas are integrated with an overabundance of non-native plant species, causing pollinator disinterest and low interaction between insect and plant. The reduction of plant diversity can have negative effects on both the plant and insect populations. Now, during urbanization, or the planning of urban areas, the support and introduction of moth and bee specific plants are vitally important to the success of those ecosystems. 

"As moths and bees both rely on plants for survival, plant populations also rely on insects for pollination. Protecting urban green spaces and ensuring they are developed in such a way that moves beyond bee-only conservation but also supports a diverse array of wildlife, will ensure both bee and moth populations remain resilient and our towns and cities remain healthier, greener places." – published study 

The study then goes into detail about the whereabouts and functionalities of moths towards the environment. Both bees and moths visit significantly different plant communities. Moths frequent more pale, yet fragrant flower species and were found to carry more pollen than previously suspected. They also pay visits to more fruit crops and trees than previously found. The moth population has decreased drastically over the last 50 years, and this study is allowing scientists and agriculturists to understand the importance of moths—an importance that was always there but widely overlooked. 

There are about 250 species of bees in the UK, and answering the questions of what insect pollinates what plant has become very difficult. The research team at Univ. Sheffield knows a distinct amount about the bee species due to previous conservation studies and efforts, but now new knowledge shows there are over 2,500 species of moths in the UK—which only pollinate at night, so their database is not yet filled. It's clear within the study that pollination is completed by complex networks strung between the plant and insect, these being very delicate and sensitive to any external disruptions. It goes on to conclude that since both bees and moths have different pollination plants, they can learn and categorize which plants are the best source of nutrients for what specific insect, while developing better ways to protect these needed organisms.