Citizen-Science Project Boosts Insect Awareness in Germany

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Nestled between the bustling streets and the Natural History Museum of Berlin, there exists a verdant strip where bumble bees dart from flower to flower, ladybugs traverse leaves filled with aphids, and a multitude of other insects roam about freely. Germany’s landscapes – from gardens and balconies to fields, woods, and untouched wilderness areas – will soon become the stage for the seventh annual “insect summer,” sponsored by the country’s Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU).

This environmental initiative invites people around Germany to engage in local biodiversity assessment. Participants are encouraged to spend an hour noting all the insects they spot within a ten-meter radius and report their observations to NABU.

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As one could imagine, this citizen-science project paints a unique picture of insect life in Germany. From poppy flowers swaying in the heart of Frankfurt’s banking district to those tucked away within an urban greenspace in Berlin’s center, everyday citizens have a chance to become keen observers of their local insect populations.

The project takes place twice a year, first from May 31 to June 9, and later from August 2 to 11. This schedule provides a vantage point into the insect world during different seasons, allowing participants to note the diverse range of species that may emerge at different times of the year.

One particular trend that NABU experts have noticed is the northward migration of insects typically found in southern regions, such as the violet carpenter bee. Laura Breitkreuz, a biodiversity and entomology expert at NABU, identifies this as a possible signal of climate change and fluctuating temperatures.

The project’s goals extend beyond gathering data for research. It aims to increase public awareness and understanding of insect diversity and their crucial roles in the earth’s ecosystems. From pollination and the food chain to maintaining soil productivity, insects carry a weight of importance that often goes unnoticed.

In a world where insect populations are often threatened by human actions, such as the use of harmful chemicals, destruction of natural habitats, and climate change, the importance of understanding our insect neighbors cannot be overstated, Breitkreuz emphasizes. “It’s very important for us to show people how important, great, and interesting insects are,” she adds.

To help participants identify and report their insect sightings, NABU has made available a form and mobile app. Consequently, the project has made it incredibly accessible for anyone to join in and contribute – no special equipment necessary.

So, whether it’s counting beetles on a flower through a magnifying glass, or simply taking note of the firebugs and lacewings in the area, this citizen-science project offers a unique opportunity for people to connect with their local environment and contribute towards crucial ecological research.