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Bugs Matter 2021

Citizen scientists have used splatometers and the ‘windscreen phenomenon’ to measure insect populations
The Bugs Matter Splatometer

Participation in this year’s Bugs Matter survey was fantastic, with a total of 4,998 journeys logged and 5,434 downloads of the Bugs Matter app.

This is enough to carry out a robust analysis at both county and national level.

The full results will be published in late March after a comprehensive analysis of the data has taken place, though preliminary results indicate a significant decline in the number of insects sampled on vehicle number plates in 2021 compared with a 2004 baseline survey carried out by the RSPB.

The splatometer

Bugs Matter is a survey based on the ‘windscreen phenomenon’, a term given to the observation that people tend to find fewer insects squashed on the windscreens of their cars compared with several decades ago.

It uses an app on your phone and a ‘splatometer’ grid to ensure standardised counts of splatted insects.

Participants cleaned their number plate before making an essential journey in a vehicle.

When the destination was reached, the bugs squashed on the number plate were counted using a ‘splatometer’ grid, which was posted to citizen scientists when they signed up.

A photo and the data were then submitted via the app.

‘The Bugs Matter partners Buglife and Kent Wildlife Trust alongside the other participating Wildlife Trusts of Essex, Somerset and Gwent, thank all those who took part in the survey over the summer. We also thank the RSPB for their support. The results are helping to build a national picture of insect population trends that can inform future actions to save these vital indicator species.’

Survey coordinator

Insects underpin our natural world and their numbers can help us to better understand what is happening in our environment.

The aim is to repeat the survey every year to build up a better understanding of insect populations.

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