The West of England’s Mayor Dan Norris has encouraged 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.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris learned how to build his own bug mansion with the help of The Conservation Volunteers and Pensford schoolchildren as part of the Mayoral Combined Authority-funded Bee Bold Pensford programme, 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.”

How to count bugs on your licence plate:

  • Create an account on the Bugs Matter App.
  • 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.