The West of England’s Mayor Dan Norris has been learning how to make a ‘bug hotel’ to make room in the garden for our insect population which is now under pressure.
He had some help from The Conservation Volunteers and Pensford schoolchildren as part of the Mayoral Combined Authority-funded Bee Bold Pensford programme.
Dan used to occasion to also encourage Bath and North East Somerset drivers not to wipe away any bugs and insects from their licence plates this summer – for a very important cause.
The insect population across the country is said to be dwindling at an alarming rate – falling by a worrying 64% over the last 20 years – due to issues like pesticide use and polluted rivers.
That spells bad news for the West of England as insects are absolutely vital for the environment – not least in terms of their vital pollination powers, says Norris.
With this in mind, the Metro Mayor is asking drivers to take part in the annual Bugs Matter Survey backed by his West of England Mayoral Combined Authority – to help him better understand the challenges the West’s insect population is facing by measuring the number of bug splatters.
The idea is that Bath and North East Somerset drivers clean their number plate before their journeys before counting, photographing, and reporting the number of bug splats at the end. All drivers will need to do is download the Bugs Matter App, which is available for free. Once you’re up and running, you can use the app’s “Virtual Splatometer”. The more journeys you survey, the better.
The survey runs right up until 31 August so there’s plenty of time for the citizen scientists among us to do their bit for the West’s crawly creatures, Norris added.
The Mayor is also encouraging all Bath and North East Somerset residents to take as many bug-friendly actions as possible this summer, having curated a list of five simple steps to help the West’s crawly creatures, like gardening without bug-harming pesticides.
And schoolchildren are being given a summer challenge to build “bug hotels” out of simple items like plastic drinks bottles and string – to give these crucial pollinators a home.
Dan said: “Bugs matter in Bath and North East Somerset. But they’ve had a rough old few years – with the climate crisis, habit loss and pesticide use just some of the challenges they face. And that spells trouble for our region.
Luckily, through steps like taking part in this vital survey so we can build a better picture of the health of our insects, or grabbing some twigs and leafy material from around your garden to build actual bug mansions, we can all do our bit for the West’s vital creepy crawly friends.”
Mayor Norris’s 5 steps to help bugs this summer
- Get green fingers – grow more insect-friendly flowers in your garden, balcony or allotment that will flower throughout the year. From shrubs to herbs, every pot will help
- Ditch the pesticides for good – pesticides create a toxic environment for all creatures but are especially harmful for insects and other pollinators. Not using them is better for you, your family, pets and the planet
- Make your own very Bug Hotel – you can do this using recycled materials to providing spaces for insects to nest. The RSPB have put together a helpful explainer on how to make your very own bug sanctuary: https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/nature-on-your-doorstep/garden-activities/build-a-bug-hotel/
- Shine the (right) light – only use outdoor lighting when you need it and leave dark spaces in your garden. Nocturnal insects, including many moths, can become disoriented by artificial light and light pollution is thought to be partly to blame for the decline of glow-worms
- Spread the word – with friends and family, on Facebook, and Instagram – to build momentum and let everyone know that we care about insect declines. Help to raise awareness!
How to count bugs on your licence plate:
- Create an account to sign up
- Clean the number plate before making your journey in a vehicle;
- Download the app which is available free in both IOS and Android.
- Start surveying on any journey you make in a vehicle between 1 June to 31 August.
- When you reach your destination, count the number of bug splats across your entire number plate;
- Use the “Virtual Splatometer” within the Bugs Matter App to get the best photograph possible;
- The photo and details must then be submitted via the app;
- The app also includes a tutorial and some safety advice.