Flying insects have been reduced by 60% in the UK

Scientists have concluded that the number of flying insects in the UK has fallen by 60% since 2004. For the study, sponsored by the Buglife and the Kent Wildlife Trust (KWT), the team compared insect scattering on car license plates in 2004 and in 2021. Reports guardianThe researchers say the falls are “terrifying” because insects play an essential role on the ground.

For the study, nearly 5,000 flights taken by participants were taken in the summer of last year 2021. The data were compared with results for the same period in 2004. The largest reduction was recorded in England, with 65%, in Wales 55% fewer insects and in Scotland 28 %.

For the study, insect scatterings in 2021 and 2004 were compared

Mosquito spray on windshield

Getty Images / istockphoto

So far, only two large studies have been conducted, so the team of scientists explained that the data could be biased by collecting them in unusually good or bad years for arthropods. It was necessary to repeat the study annually to obtain a long-term trend and draw reliable conclusions.

This research was supplemented by evaluations and data from other studies showing a sharp decline in flying insects. The scientists took into account a survey conducted annually in rural Denmark from 1997 to 2017 about windshield scattering of insects. After looking at the data, the study concluded that the mosquito population was reduced by up to 80%.


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The team collected information by conducting surveys through a downloadable Bugs Matter app, in which participants recorded the number of bugs detected on their license plates during their summer road trips. Matt Shardlow, CEO of Buglife and promoter of the study, announces that guardian The research “suggests that the number of flying insects is declining at a rate of 34 percent per decade; that’s frightening.”

The number of flying insects is declining at a rate of 34% every decade. this is scary



Matt ShardlowCEO Bug Life

Insects scattered on the front of the car

Insects scattered on the front of the car

Getty Images / istockphoto

The survey, conducted by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in 2004, showed that in only 8 percent of flights there was no scattering of insects. However, in the 2021 data, 40% of trips did not record a single ground insect, about half of which were. The researchers ruled out the possibility that the new cars were more aerodynamic and made fewer errors.

The importance of insects

Ecosystem Collapse

Shardlow believes that these data “require a political and social response. It is imperative that we halt biodiversity decline now.” Paul Hadaway, a researcher with the Kent Wildlife Trust, insists that we are seeing “declines in insects that reflect massive threats and loss of wildlife across the country”.

Insects are essential to sustain life on Earth. It has multiple functions, such as soil aeration, recycling and degrading of organic matter, pest control, and flower pollination. All of them make them essential for the proper functioning of ecosystems.

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