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by Tim Beissmann

A Dutch biologist has calculated that cars kill 133 billion insects every month in the Netherlands.

Arnold van Vliet constructed the SplashTeller website in May, encouraging volunteers to count their kill number and add it to a national register.

Over six weeks and 19,184 miles (30,874km), 17,836 insects were squashed on the front licence plates of around 250 Dutch cars.

From the data, van Vliet extrapolated to come to the following conclusion:

“In 2007, over seven million cars [in the Netherlands] travelled about 200 billion kilometres. If we assume for simplicity that every month the average is the same for all cars, then 16.7 billion kilometres are travelled a month.

“In just the licence plates, 3.3 billion bugs are killed per month. The front of the car is at least 40 times as large as the surface of the plate.

“This means that cars hit around 133 billion insects every month. In half a year, that is 800 billion insects. This is significantly more than we had estimated six weeks ago.”

The findings were similar to a study conducted in the UK.

Although there are many different factors influencing the rate of car-related bug fatalities, van Vliet’s rate can be used to give an approximate measure for other countries too.

US publication Treehugger calculated that cars kill around 32.5 trillion bugs in the US every year.

Given that Australia’s car fleet is around 12.3 million, we can calculate that Australian cars kill two trillion bugs every year.

So spare a thought for those sticky little critters the next time you’re picking them out of your radiator grille.




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