University wants insect body count

25th May 2011, Comments 0 comments

With some 500 billion estimated traffic casualties a year  - and that is just counting The Netherlands - insects are the number one road kill victims in the world. That substantial number can be useful for research. And that is exactly what Wageningen University is going to focus on.

According to the University there are around 20 thousand fairly unknown insect species in The Netherlands. Some aren’t even discovered. Researcher Arnold van Vliet came out with a peculiar request. He asks people to count the number of dead insects on their license plate, every time they take a trip. “that information, combined with the beginning and end point of the drive plus time and date will give us unique information. This information will give us an idea of the amount of insect presence in certain locations and also about their flight patters. So far we have never been able to chart insectbehavior in this manner.”  

Why the license plate? Counting the insects on the front of your car would be a hard job to do.  Especially when you drive a big car or a truck. But the license plate is a perfect phenomenon according to the Wageningen researcher. “All licence plates are the same size so basically we have some seven  million perfect sensors driving all around the  country at different times of the day. The only tough thing is to get people to get on their hands and knees to do a full body count of insects. But that is what we need.”  Van Vliet says that the information that comes out of this project can be very useful for all sorts of food chain research. It gives an insight on insect behavior under different weather conditions and it will help us understand behaviors of birds for example that depend on insects for nourishment.  


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