A Bug’s Death
The “splatometer” is poised to become the next hip conservation tool. Worried that insect numbers seem to be falling in Britain, and that the drop may be leading to a decline in birds, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds is gearing up for a nationwide survey next year to gather data on insect populations. The society hopes to convince tens of thousands of Britons to adorn the windshields of their cars with splatometers — postcard-sized pieces of PVC film that catch insects after they crash into moving vehicles. The splatometers will then be sent back to the society for computer-aided analysis. “Anecdotal evidence pointing to the decline of British insects abounds,” said entomologist George McGavin of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. “Most people over the age of 50 talk of seeing many more species of moths, butterflies, and other insects when they were children.” A number of studies also point to the disappearance of specific insect species in Britain, but the society wants to gather more comprehensive data on general declines throughout the country.