How car number plates are revealing the TERRIFYING truth about British insect numbers

CAR number plates are highlighting a drastic decline in British insects.

A survey conducted by Bugs Matter has been counting the number of squashed insects on number plates to determine insect levels.

The citizen science project asked motorists to count the number of squashed bugs on their numberplates.

The idea was inspired by the ‘windscreen phenomenon’- a term given to the general observation that people are seeing fewer insects squashed on the windscreens of their cars today compared to several decades ago.

Before making an essential journey drivers were asked to clean their front number plate and afterwards count the insects using a 'splatometer grid' supplied as part of the survey.

They then had to take and submit a photo via the Bugs Matter app and the data was converted to 'splats per mile' to make it comparable.

The data was gathered in this way in 2019 and 2021 and then compared against previous years.

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The number of insects sampled on vehicle number plates fell by a shocking 59% between 2004 and 2021.

Matt Shardlow, chief executive at Buglife, said: “This vital study suggests that the number of flying insects is declining by an average of 34% per decade, this is terrifying.

We cannot put off action any longer, for the health and wellbeing of future generations this demands a political and a societal response, it is essential that we halt biodiversity decline – now.”

The results of the counts of moths, butterflies, flies, flying beetles and ants, aphids, wasps, bees and lacewings were different across the UK.


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England saw the biggest declines of 65% compared with 17 years ago.

Wales saw 55% fewer insects, while Scotland a 28% decline compared with 2004 figures.

There were too few surveys in Northern Ireland to draw separate conclusions, the conservationists said.

Paul Hadaway, director of conservation at Kent Wildlife Trust, said: "“Insects and pollinators are fundamental to the health of our environment and rural economies.

"We need action for all our wildlife now by creating more and bigger areas of habitats, providing corridors through the landscape for wildlife and allowing nature space to recover.”

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