If you’re old enough, you may recall that 20 years ago or more, you used to see many more dead insects on your car’s windshield, while today you see almost none.
This is called the Windshield Phenomenon.
In the first years 2000s it became a commonplace observation among drivers that after a long drive, windshields no longer had to be cleaned of numerous insects.
It was basically born as a meme, but in 2016, naturalist John Acorn noted that the phenomenon had real and objective proofs.
Since 2017, major publications and media covered the topic of reductions in insect abundance over the last few decades and entomologists linked this withthe fact they no longer had to frequently clean their windshields.
It turned out that a meme was aware of a proved trend.
A 20-year study measured the number of dead insects on car windshields on two stretches of road in Denmark from 1997 until 2017. Adjusted for variables such as time of day, date, temperature, and wind speed, the research actually found an 80% decline in insects.
Several factors are thought to contribute to the declining insect populations.
The expansion of human settlements, agriculture, and infrastructure has led to the destruction and fragmentation of natural habitats, essential for insect survival and reproduction.
The widespread use of pesticides in agriculture and urban areas has had a devastating impact on insect populations, directly killing insects and indirectly harming their food sources.
Rising global temperatures and extreme weather events are disrupting insect life cycles and altering their habitats, leading to population declines and even extinctions.
Artificial light at night can disrupt insect navigation and foraging patterns, reducing their reproductive success and overall survival.
The introduction of non-native insect species can disrupt ecological balances and compete with native insects for resources, further contributing to their decline.
One can still consider the trend and the effect as anecdotal, but the studies conducted created a connection between the global redutction of insects species and what people of a certain age can actually confirm as something more than a simple perception.