Drivers to count insect splats

By Jonathan BarnesMOTORISTS in East Anglia are being encouraged to count the "splats" of dead insects on car number plates this summer – to find out if insect numbers are falling.

By Jonathan Barnes

MOTORISTS in East Anglia are being encouraged to count the "splats" of dead insects on car number plates this summer - to find out if insect numbers are falling.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is handing out "splatometers" to carry out a Big Bug Count next month. It is concerned declining numbers of insects is presenting a problem for birds who rely on insects for food.

The cardboard grids will help count the number of splattered bugs on car plates after a journey and it is hoped the information will build a picture of insect populations across the UK.


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RSPB Big Bug Count co-ordinator, Richard Bashford, said: "Some insects are particularly important and provide food for birds such as swallows and house martins.

"House sparrows also rely on insects to feed their chicks yet sparrow numbers have declined by 62% in the last 25 years.

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"By taking part in Big Bug Count, you'll be helping the RSPB look at how insect declines may be affecting some of our best-loved birds."

The reasons why there are fewer insects about are not yet known and theories include habitat loss and pollution.

The RSPB's survey will not identify the causes of insect declines, but it will help to monitor any future changes in the numbers of flying bugs across the UK.

It will also look at regional differences, discovering which are the best and worst in the UK for flying insects.

An RSPB spokesman said: "Big Bug Count can be done on any journey - ideally between 20 and 80 miles - you take during June, preferably in dry weather, as rain during your journey could wash insects off the number plate.

"Even journeys with no splats provide very useful information, so please send your form to us even if your count is zero."

The Big Bug Count runs throughout next month. To take part in the survey call the hotline number, which is operational until June 21, on 0870 787 5577.

Further information can be obtained from the RSPC website at www.rspb.org.uk/bugcount. Online survey forms will be available from June 1.

jonathan.barnes@eadt.co.uk

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