Falmouth residents are being sought by a student at the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus who is conducting research into the causes of moth declines.

Samuel Perfect hopes to determine whether urban green space can help moths survive. A large number of Britain’s moths, though still relatively common, have declined precipitously in the last 40 years – some by as much as 90 per cent.

Despite occurring in a wide variety of rural and urban habitats, the reasons for these declines are not known.

Samuel is looking for willing residents from across Falmouth and Penryn with gardens, patios or back yards who would be happy to let him leave a moth trap for a night in the space during July and August. The devices are left overnight and use a light to attract moths. In the morning they are emptied, and the moths identified and released back into the wild.

“Their variety is simply staggering” said Samuel. “Their diversity far outstrips the 60 or so species of butterfly found here. At least 2,500 different species occur in the UK”.

“Moths are a good indicator of a healthy environment,” added Dr Ilya Maclean who is supervising the research.

“Samuel’s work will help us understand whether people’s gardens provide a haven for moths, perhaps helping to stem the decline”.

Samuel is studying Environmental Science at the University of Exeter and will be conducting the research at the Environment and Sustainability Institute in Penryn. Samuel will collect moths from locations across the Falmouth area and will quantify the amount of urban green space around each location.

He is keen to trap the creatures in any type of garden, no matter how small or large, wild or built-up – as he intends to study the differences between these two extremes. Although he only needs to leave the trap over one night, he would be grateful if residents are happy for him to return.

The information gathered will be helpful to Cornwall but will also have wider relevance. Analysis of moth data aims to provide new information on the drivers of decline that may be able to stop the cause.

Samuel can be contacted on sp424@exeter.ac.uk or 07504 486609.

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