Essex drivers urged to count bug splatters on their registration plate as part of a new survey

The app launched on today by Essex Wildlife Trusts and insect charity Buglife, aims to help wildlife organisations better understand how local insect populations are faring. Credit: Bugs Matter

A new app that allows drivers to help survey the nation's insect population has launched in Essex today. 

The Bugs Matter app works by asking drivers to count the number of bugs squashed on  car registration plates after a journey. It aims to help wildlife organisations get a better understanding of why insect populations are declining. 

After downloading the app, users are asked to clean their number plate before a drive.

When they reach their destination, they then count the bugs squashed on a section of the number plate by placing a special grid against it, known as a splatometer. More details are then submitted, along with a photo.

The survey is based on the so-called 'windscreen phenomenon', a term given that explains that people tend to find fewer insects squashed on the windscreens of their cars compared to several decades ago.

According to Buglife, there is growing evidence of insect decline on a global scale caused by habitat loss and pesticides.

The charity added the decline could be catastrophic for the integrity of ecosystems, the future survival of other wildlife and the pollination of crops.

The survey period runs from June 1 until August 31.