The Guardian, and iNNewsreport a new app that tracks bug splats on car number plates will enable UK citizen scientists to help shed light on the worrying decline of insects.
Older drivers will remember scrubbing large numbers of splatted insects from windscreens after journeys in past decades. But a 2019 study that analysed car registration plates after trips in Kent found a 50% fall in splatted bugs compared with 2004.
The charity Buglife has now launched the free Bugs Matter app to enable people to collect valuable data. Users start by cleaning their number plate before a journey, which is then tracked by the app to collect location and time data.
The BBC report fewer of the UK’s smallest birds have been spotted this year by volunteers in the Big Garden Birdwatch, an annual survey run by the RSPB.
Long-tailed tits were down by 27% and wrens by 17% after being seen in large numbers in 2018. Last year’s very cold spell brought by the Beast from the East is thought to be a factor, as smaller birds would have been hardest hit by the blast.
House sparrows, meanwhile, are making a comeback after years in decline.
Sadly, recent reports show that British mammals and butterflies are under decline.
The Mammal Society and Natural England reported that almost one in five of British mammal species face a high risk of extinction. This was the first comprehensive review of their populations for more than 20 years. The reasons for decline include climate change, loss of habitat, use of pesticides and road deaths.
The red squirrel, wildcat and the grey long-eared bat are all listed as facing severe threats to their survival.
The review also found other mammals such as the hedgehog and water vole [Photo above by Nick Ford under creative commons
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode] have seen their populations decline by up to 66% over the past 20 years.
Meanwhile, a story in The Times tells how Defra (Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) believes a lack of management has caused butterflies to decline. Since 1990 butterfly numbers have fallen by 27 per cent on farmland and by 58 per cent in woods.
Farmland species in long-term decline include the gatekeeper, large skipper and small tortoiseshell. While the brown argus, common blue, peacock and purple hairstreak in woodlands have also declined.
Set up by Friends of the Earth, and supported by Buglife, this count has run since 17 May and will continue until 30 June. Download the app to make a note and report any bumblebees and solitary bees you see. It has a handy guide for identification as well as advise on how to create habitats for pollinators.
[Photo by Rob Gallop under creative commons
While you’re out on your dog walk, cycle or stroll through the countryside you could also be helping our local mammals. The Mammal Society have launched a new app, Mammal Mapper, to record mammals sightings or signs of mammals and send them to a national database.
The app is simple to use and provides a very handy detailed guide to identifying British mammals.
Most wild mammals, including rabbits and hedgehogs, are poorly monitored. Records from the app could provide vital information about locations and population trends of our precious mammals, aiding better management and protection.