Bugs Matter

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The Bugs Matter 2023 survey season has now ended.  Join us again on June 1 2024! 

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

The Bugs Matter citizen science survey is an important initiative measuring insect splats on vehicle number plates as a marker of insect abundance. In previous survey years, with the valuable contributions of citizen scientists across the UK, we have made significant strides in understanding the challenges facing our insect populations.

This year, we need your help, once again, to build on our knowledge and make our impact even greater.  Sharing the findings from your journeys will help us understand more about our insect populations, as growing evidence highlights their declines on a global scale.

Your participation in this nature survey is vital for us to monitor population trends, address causes of insect loss, halt and reverse them.

No more paper splatometers – we’re now digital!

In 2023 we made some improvements to the survey process with Bugs Matter going digital and removing the need for paper splatometers.

This change will make it even easier for you to participate and contribute to the survey; saving time and helping us reduce printing, paper and postage needs – promoting a more sustainable and efficient survey.

If you have a Smartphone you can take part following these easy steps:

🪰 Download the app which is available free in both IOS and Android.
🪰 Create an account to sign up.
🪰 Start surveying on any journey you make in a vehicle between 1 June to 31 August.

The more journeys you conduct the survey on, the better – and counts of zero bugs are just as important to submit.

The concept is simple:

🪰 Clean the number plate before making your journey in a vehicle;
🪰 When you reach your destination, count the number of bug splats across your entire number plate;
🪰 Use the “Virtual Splatometer” within the Bugs Matter App to get the best photograph possible;
🪰 The photo and details must then be submitted via the app;
🪰 You don’t even need to be the driver of the vehicle you are travelling in – but you do need their permission;
🪰 The app also includes a tutorial and some safety advice.

Why count squashed insects?

The methodology is 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 to several decades ago.

Flying Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis) © Steven Falk Flying Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa serraticornis) © Steven Falk

We want to repeat this survey every year to build up a better understanding of insect populations.  The survey uses an innovative insect sampling method conducted by members of the public to assess the difference in insect abundance over a number of years.

Insects are also a good indicator for measuring the success of our conservation work at landscape-scale.

Results are in for 2022’s Bugs Matter survey period!

Thanks to all the citizen scientists who took part in 2022 we can now share the shocking results discovered thanks to Bugs Matter.

The 2022 Bugs Matter findings, which are published in a report released by Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife (Bugs Matter 2022 Full Technical Report), show that the number of insects sampled on vehicle number plates by citizen scientists across the UK reduced by a staggering 64% between 2004 and 2022. These findings are consistent with research which has widely reported declining trends in insect populations globally.

Bugs Matter Social Graphic_UK

Read more in our Bugs Matter media release: Further insect number declines in 2022 – a long-term trend or the result of record summer temperatures?

If you haven’t already please do remember to sign up for this years Bugs Matter survey, by downloading the Bugs Matter app following the above steps.

To help us raise vital funds, to run this citizen science initiative and help stop the extinction of invertebrate species, please donate today.  Donations will allow us to run the survey as well as upgrade the official digital Bugs Matter smartphone app to improve the virtual ‘Splatometer’ so participants can scan their vehicle number plates; digitally recording the number of insect ‘splats’ per journey. 

Donate to Bugs Matter

Want to find out what other actions you can take to help stop the extinction of invertebrate species?  Why not check out No Insectinction; Buglife’s response to the current crisis – a prescription for healing our planet, by restoring our depleted and devastated insect populations.

No Insectinction

Bugs Matter is led by Buglife and Kent Wildlife Trust; supported by the RSPB. 

Help us to stop the extinction of invertebrate species

Become a member

From £3 per month, membership directly supports our vital conservation work. In return you receive member benefits and our bi-annual Buzz magazine.


Donate to support us

Our work would not be possible without your support. Bees and other invertebrates need help to reverse the catastrophic declines in their numbers. Please donate today and together we can restore vital habitats and rebuild strong populations of invertebrates in the UK.

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