One of the downsides of a long car journey in the summer is the amount flying insects which interface with the windscreen. But inconvenient though it may be to scrub off the squashed bugs, our love of motoring may be having a devastating effect on the insect population, which is believed to be in decline. To discover more, Arnold van Vliet, a Dutch biologist at the University of Wageningen, asked motorists to track the numbers of insects which inadvertently strayed into the path of their car.
Over a period of six weeks, 250 Dutch drivers were asked to clean their front number plate and go for a drive. They then counted the number of squashed insects and entered the results on the website Splashteller.
Based on the data, an estimated 133 billion insects are killed by over seven million Dutch cars driving an estimated distance of 124.5 billion miles every year.
Using the same statistics, British drivers, with 31 million cars, inadvertently kill up to seven trillion insects while travelling every year.
What you really don’t want to interface with your car is a bird, which, from personal experience, can crack windscreen. Birdstrike can cause engine failure in airplanes and is reputed to be the cause of the crash-landed US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River, New York. It is thought the plane collided with a flock of Canada geese.
Swans, rats and snakes have also brought flights to a standstill, and that can be a real pest because the flight is likely to be cancelled.