An astonishing 78% fall in the abundance of the UK’s flying insects is a huge concern for game-fishers. The figure comes from the unlikely but highly credible citizen science survey of insects, Bugs Matter, which counts splats on vehicle number plates and is run by national charity Buglife and Kent Wildlife Trust.

The survey has recorded 26,500 car journeys since 2004. It identifies the habitats through which vehicles pass and the distance of journeys, but not the species of fly.

Andrew Whitehouse of Buglife said, “…the abundance of flying insects in our countryside has dramatically fallen. The consequences are potentially far-reaching, not only impacting the health of the natural world, but affecting so many of the free services that nature provides for us. The Bugs Matter findings are similar to other studies which have documented declines in insect abundance from around the world.”

Blue-Winged Olive
Blue-winged olive chalkstream populations have declined over the past 30 years, Photograph: Dr Cyril Bennett

Results of the survey won’t come as a surprise to many trout-fishers, notably on the southern chalkstreams, where groups such as the Anglers’ Riverfly Monitoring Initiative have documented falls in the populations of river flies for decades.

Buglife is calling for urgent action to address the “drivers of insect declines” such as habitat loss, unsustainable agricultural practices and environmental pollutants.

Mr Whitehouse said, “ Society must heed the warning signs of ecological collapse.

To take part in this year’s survey, download the Bugs Matters app from the Apple Store or Google Play.