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Splatometers at the ready!

Citizen scientists: count the number of insect splats on your number plate as part of this year’s Bugs Matter survey
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
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For the Bugs Matter 2023 Survey, conservation charities Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife have introduced a new virtual ‘splatometer’ to measure insect splats on number plates as a measure of insect abundance.

The aim of this ground-breaking initiative is to measure the alarming decline in insect numbers repeatedly reported across the UK and the globe.

Falling insect populations

Results from last year’s Bugs Matter citizen science survey revealed a dramatic decrease in insect populations.

Across the UK, the survey found a staggering decrease of 64% in the number of insects splatted on vehicle number plates between 2004 and 2022.

The annual Bugs Matter survey is valuable tool to better understand trends in insect abundance up and down the UK.

‘By joining the Bugs Matter survey, every participant becomes a vital contributor to our understanding of insect population numbers across the country. The survey enables us to collect data efficiently and sustainably, thanks to the elimination of paper splatometers this year. Together, we can make a difference in preserving populations of our valuable insects.’

DR LAWRENCE BALL
Kent Wildlife Trust

Shaping conservation strategies

The important question to answer now is whether the results from the past two years of the survey indicate a long-term trend.

The Bugs Matter team needs more and more citizen scientists to sign up and take part ever year to provide a long-term, reliable dataset.

The results of Bugs Matter will better inform effective conservation strategies to halt and reverse declining insect trends across the country.

‘Given the dramatic decline in flying insect abundance over the last two decades, it is vital that we continue to monitor the situation via the Bugs Matter survey; and it is now easier than ever to take part.’

PROF KARIM VAHED
England manager at Buglife


 

Sustainable splatometers

One key development for this year’s survey is the discontinuation of paper ‘splatometers’ – grids used to record the number of insects splatted on number plates as a measure of insect abundance.

Previously, participants had to wait for their splatometer to be posted, causing potential delays in data collection.

Now, with the switch to a virtual template, individuals can instantly and seamlessly take part in the survey.

This improvement not only increases the survey’s efficiency, but also promotes sustainability through reduced printing, paper and postage.

Support the Bugs Matter survey

The Bugs Matter survey encourages citizen scientists across the UK to collect valuable data on how insect numbers are faring.

By participating, anyone can contribute to a nationwide effort to monitor insect populations in order to develop targeted conservation measures.

The Bugs Matter survey is now live and will run until 31 August 2023, aligning with peak insect activity. Participants can visit the Bugs Matter website here to download the free app for iOS and Android.

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