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Sustainability Quiz 24: Windshield Phenomenon

Sustainability Quiz 24: Windshield Phenomenon

Sustainability Quiz 24. If you are older than 25 and have ever driven long distances to camp or road trip, you will remember squished insects all over your windshield, especially at dusk

The windshield phenomenon (or windscreen phenomenon) is the observation that fewer dead insects have been splatting on people's car windscreens since the early 2000s.

What is the windshield phenomenon?                                                                        

    Road visibility in forests
     Forward visibility at dusk
     Declining windscreen insect splats
     Recyclability of windscreens

The case of the disappearing insects

Anyone driving long distances will have noticed that insect splats on windscreens are in decline. Entomologists dubbed the disappearing insects 'the windscreen phenomenon' as fewer and fewer bugs seem to end up squished on our car windscreens.

27 year insect splat research

A group of amateur entomologists across Germany, counted insects over a 27 year period and ultimately proved that what had previously been a suspected folktale was not only true, but probably much worse than generally suspected. The entomologists began collecting insects in 1989 and their research was reported in in 2017. 

The group noted that 75% of the insect population disappeared in that time. Their analysis showed a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years. That’s a lot of lost insects.

No insects, no birds, no pollenation, no food

The problem of course is way worse than just a cleaner windscreen. 80% of wild plants are estimated to depend on insects for pollination, while 60% of birds rely on insects as a food source. No food, no birds. No bees, no food.

What can you do?

It's pretty simple. Don’t use pesticides, herbicides or any SVHCs if you don’t absolutely need to, especially synthetics and chemicals. Use ecological methods to manage garden and lawn pests and avoid killing insects. Support government bans of insect killing pesticides.

*SVHC = Substances of very high concern

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