Wetenschap - 12 juli 2011

Insect splattered on number plate every 5km

Two insects meet a messy end on the number plate of a Dutch driver every 10 kilometres. This is one of the first results from the Splat Counter, an initiative of Wageningen University.

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Researchers wanted to find out how many insects there were in various parts of the Netherlands, as insects play a key role in Dutch nature due to their enormous diversity and vast numbers.
In May, the researchers called on drivers to count the number of insects on their number plates after every trip. They had to clean the number plate before setting off to prevent any double counting. More than seventeen thousand splattered insects have been reported in the one and a half months that the Counter has been in operation. The creatures were scraped off the number plates of more than 250 drivers after 385 trips.
The most dangerous provinces for an insect are Zeeland, Groningen and Friesland. Gelderland had the least fatalities. The evening was the time with most insect deaths. Not surprisingly, as that is when there are the most insects in the air.
The initial results from the Splat Counter have been used to make a rough estimate of the total number of insects killed by traffic every month: 133 billion. These are the insects killed anywhere on the car, not just on the number plate.
The Splat Counter will remain in operation for the next few months.

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