Citizen science programme suggests dramatic decline in Kent insect numbers, as UK Government approve the use of lethal pesticides - Kent Wildlife Trust

Image: Kent Wildlife Trust
Image: Kent Wildlife Trust

New analysis of data from the 2022 Bugs Matter survey suggests alarming declines in insect numbers in Kent: the number of flying insects sampled on number plates by citizen scientists has declined by a massive 74% since 2004.

This is an increase from last year’s figures, which showed a 72% decline between 2004 and 2021. The news comes just a week after the UK Government announced the permitted use of the banned pesticide thiamethoxam (a neonicotinoid) on sugar beet crops in England for the third year running, even after advocating for a global pesticide reduction target at the UN COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montreal in December 2022. A single teaspoon of the neonicotinoid pesticide is enough to kill 1.25 billion bees.

The Bugs Matter Citizen Science Survey uses an innovative method for the large-scale surveying of flying insect abundance across the UK. The survey runs every summer and involves citizen scientists recording the number of insect splats on their vehicle number plates following a journey. Counting insects not only gives an estimate of the abundance of insect life but is also a measure of the health of the environment, so when their numbers fall it is an indication that nature is in trouble.

The Bugs Matter data also indicates that insect declines appear to be happening at a higher rate in Kent compared to the rest of the UK, where a 64% national decline in the number of bug splats on number plates was recorded across the same time period.

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Posted On: 02/02/2023

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