Bugs Matter

 Download the IOS App Download the Android App

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 has made 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.

In 2024 we are extending the survey season to include the months of May and September, firstly to capture even more valuable data and secondly to potentially account for changes and variations in weather patterns and possible insect emergence events.

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 May to 30 September.

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 2023’s Bugs Matter survey period!

Thanks to all the citizen scientists who took part in 2023 we can now share the shocking results discovered thanks to Bugs Matter.

The 2023 Bugs Matter findings, which are published in a report released by Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife (Bugs Matter Summary Report 2023), show that the number of insects sampled on vehicle number plates by citizen scientists across the UK reduced by a staggering 78% between 2004 and 2023. These findings are consistent with research which has widely reported declining trends in insect populations globally.

Read more in our Bugs Matter media release:  Bugs Matter Citizen Science survey shows further decreases in UK insect numbers.

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.

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

Join a community of invertebrate champions and access exclusive member benefits from just £3 a month, all whilst supporting our vital conservation work.


Donate to support us

Every contribution helps us to save the small things that run the planet by restoring vital habitats and rebuilding strong invertebrate populations in the UK.

Make a donation today

Engage with our work

Stay up to date with our work and help spread the word by following us on our socials and signing up to our monthly BugBytes email newsletter.