German Scientists Seek Public’s Help to Count Insects This Summer

03:03 June 2, 2024

German Scientists Seek Public’s Help to Count Insects This Summer

How many insects can you count in one hour?

That was the question being asked by a group of environmentalists outside of Berlin’s Natural History Museum recently.

The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, or NABU, is asking regular people to help count the insects they see in any 10-meter area available to them.

NABU organizes “insect summer.” It is now in its seventh year. The effort is a way to follow the movements of insects such as aphids, ladybugs and bees.

Laura Breitkreuz is an expert on insects and biodiversity at NABU. She said the project helps scientists observe the effects of climate change.

“We have seen that a few insects that normally occur only in the south might be spreading further north,” she said, noting the appearance of the violet carpenter bee in Germany.

The citizen science project aims to give researchers information. It is not like precise scientific observations. However, the discoveries of regular people can give formal researchers unexpected insights.

From bees to butterflies, scientists consider insects an important part of the ecosystem. They are important to pollination, the food chain and keeping soil productive.

In recent years, for example, scientists have expressed concerns about what appears to be a decrease in the bee population worldwide. The drop in some kinds of insects is often blamed on human causes including chemicals and damage to the environment.

Breitkreuz said the insect count project helps the scientists, and it also helps people respect the role insects play in their daily lives.

“It’s very important for us to show people how important, great and interesting insects are,” she said. Breitkreuz said some people lack knowledge of “what is crawling around outside…”

The first insect count is happening until June 9 and the next one is from August 2 to 11. The NABU provides a document to fill out and an app for the citizen scientists to report their findings.

I’m Dan Friedell.

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