In the OPAL Bugs Count Survey, our citizen scientists participate in three ‘challenges’ where they record as many invertebrates as possible on human-made surfaces, soft ground surfaces and taller plants within a specific timeframe. They also looked for six particular species of invertebrate.
What have we found?
The data submitted by OPAL participants shows that:
- More invertebrates were found on soft ground surfaces than on plants or human-made hard surfaces
- Despite initially seeming inhospitable to invertebrates, human-made surfaces such as paving, fences and walls were heavily used by certain invertebrate groups such as ants, spiders and woodlice
- Gardens were found to be associated with more invertebrates that feed on dead organic matter (particularly woodlice), parks and grasslands were associated with more pollinators, and woodlands were associated with more herbivores and predators
- Nearly four times more small tortoiseshell butterflies were recorded in rural areas than in towns and cities. In contrast, tree bumblebees show a strong association with urban areas
The following scientific journal papers used OPAL Bugs Count Survey data:
- Bates, A.J. et al, 2015, The OPAL bugs count survey: exploring the effects of urbanisation and habitat characteristics using citizen science, Urban Ecosystems (open access version)
- van de Wal, R. et al, 2015, Mapping species distributions: A comparison of skilled naturalist and lay citizen science recording, Ambio
See results on the OPAL Data Explorer
Explore the OPAL Bugs Count Survey results and draw your own conclusions. Use the OPAL Data Explorer to:
- Map and graph all Bugs Count Survey data
- Find out what species have been found near you
- Analyse your results and compare your results with others'
View more results
- OPAL data tracks spread of Tree Bumblebee (published February 2016)
- Bugs Count results – what have we discovered so far? (Data from year 1 - 2011/2012)
- Big Butterfly Count (external site) - take part in this annual event organised by Butterfly Conservation