Bugs in urban vs rural areas – the results

How many bugs were counted in urban areas?

We invited you to go on a Species Quest and keep your eyes peeled for six key invertebrates. You spotted nearly 9,000 of them while doing your Bugs Count surveys.

One of the things we wanted to find out was how many species were found in very densely populated places such as cities and towns compared to less populated areas such as villages and hamlets. Can you notice any differences?

Size of bug represents average no. of
individuals found in each environment

Graph comparing number of urban and rural bug finds


Nearly four times more small Tortoiseshell butterflies were found in rural areas than in urban areas.

Although their breeding habitats are often associated with human environments, these butterflies may be doing better in less populated places because there are more nettles, which the larvae feed on, and nectar sources such as bramble and thistle for the adults.

See the microhabitats they were found in most often.


Almost equal numbers of Tree Bumblebees were found in urban areas and rural areas.

Perhaps these species do well in urban environments is becuase they can use the structure and warmth of buildings for nesting and feed on flowering plants and trees in allotments and gardens.

See the microhabitats they were found in most often.



All Species Quest bugs were found in both rural and urban settlements suggesting that both environments contain microhabitats to support them.

But overall, the average number was higher in less densely populated areas than in cities and towns. This may be down to limited living and feeding resources in human-dominated environments - one reason why it is important to protect and enhance green spaces in urban areas.