This story was originally published by The Guardian and appears here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.

The number of insects splattered on vehicle licence plates in Britain fell by 64 per cent between 2004 and 2022, according to a survey.

Each summer, citizen scientists record the number of insect splats on their plates on an app after a journey. The latest Bugs Matter report, produced by Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife, found another drop in 2022 compared with 2021, with the long-term decrease jumping by five percentage points.

The survey supports other scientific studies showing major and ongoing declines in flying insects in western Europe this century that potentially imperil food chains, plant and crop pollination and ultimately life on Earth.

Andrew Whitehouse of Buglife said: “For the second year running, Bugs Matter has shown potentially catastrophic declines in the abundance of flying insects. Urgent action is required to address the loss of the diversity and abundance of insect life.”

The study found continued declines from 2021 to 2022 in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, but this summer appears to have been a better season for flying insects in Scotland. The decline since 2004 in Scotland was 48.5 per cent in 2021 but just 40.3 per cent in 2022.

The Bugs Matter survey data is collected when people download a free app and record the insects splattered on their plates during car journeys over the summer. Nearly 7,000 volunteers have signed up and 4,140 journeys were analyzed in 2022’s data. Short journeys and trips in the rain are excluded.

The project is keen to recruit more participants for the 2023 recording, which starts June 1, 2023.

Evan Bowen-Jones, the chief executive of Kent Wildlife Trust, said: “Thanks to citizen scientists across the country, we are building a better picture of the health of our insect populations and already we are seeing some concerning patterns in the data.

Flying insect numbers plunge 64 per cent since 2004, a U.K. survey finds. #ClimateChange #Insects #Biodiversity #BugsMatter

“However, we need more citizen scientists to take part in the Bugs Matter survey next year and into the future to understand whether we are seeing actual long-term trends or the impact of the extreme temperatures we faced in 2022.”

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