Flying insect numbers have plunged by 60% since 2004

The number of flying insects in Great Britain has plunged by almost 60% since 2004, according to a survey that counted splats on car registration plates. The scientists behind the survey said the drop was “terrifying”, as life on Earth depends on insects.

The results from many thousands of journeys by members of the public in the summer of 2021 were compared with results from 2004. The fall was highest in England, at 65%, with Wales recording 55% fewer insects and Scotland 28%.

With only two large surveys so far, the researchers said it was possible that those years were unusually good ones, or bad ones, for insects, potentially skewing the data, and so it was vital to repeat the analysis every year to build up a long-term trend. But the new results are consistent with other assessments of insect decline, including a car windscreen survey in rural Denmark that ran every year from 1997 to 2017 and found an 80% decline in abundance.