UK number plates used to show shocking insect decline

Insects are disappearing in Britain at a staggering rate. Flying insect numbers have fallen by 59% since 2004, with even more than 65% in England alone. Think about it. It’s just amazing. And remember, that’s just in the last 18 years.

This data was collected by the Bugs Matter survey, which actually counted the number of dead bugs on number plates (aka ‘number plates’ in the UK). In 2019 and 2021, members of the public were asked to record the number of flying insects run over on their license plates. They were given a “splatometer grid” to place on their plates, told to clean it before long drives, count the carnage on arrival, and log it into the Bugs Matter app. This data was then compared to data from a 2004 survey that used the same method. You can find the full report here.

Brilliant, some would say. Bugs are gross and cleaning them from the front of your car is terrible. Certainly, but they are also vital for a healthy ecosystem, and perhaps most convincingly, flying insects pollinate the products that people eat or that are fed to the animals that people eat. Many flying insects also kill insect pests. Basically, disappearing bugs are very, very bad.

“The results of the Bugs Matter study should shock and worry us all,” said Paul Hadaway of the Kent Wildlife Trust, which, along with an organization called Bugs Life, funded the survey. “We are seeing insect declines that reflect the huge threats and loss of wildlife more broadly across the country. These declines are occurring at an alarming rate and without concerted action to address them, we face a bleak future. insects and pollinators are essential to the health of our environment and rural economies.We need action for all our wildlife now by creating larger and larger areas of habitat, providing corridors across the landscape to wildlife and allowing the natural space to recover.

People living in Britain can take part in the Bugs Matter 2022 survey by downloading the app of the same name. People can start surveying on any trip taken between June 1 and August 31.

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