“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” is a quote often attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. It describes how when we first struggle with a problem it can seem full of complexity but the deeper it is understood, the simpler the solution can be.
It’s true of research like the Big Bug Hunt as well. We’ve been tracking tens of thousands of bug reports every year since 2015 and then carrying out complex analysis using powerful software we have developed for the project. Every bug report has to be checked against weather records at that location for many months previously and compared with the location of other similar reports. It’s enough to make the mind boggle!
At an individual bug level things are pretty complex too. There are thousands of research papers about insect emergence, each concentrating on a specific species in a specific set of locations. The various processes and interactions in the life cycle of insects are amazingly complex for such tiny creatures, and can be further altered by the phenology of the plants that they depend on for food and habitat.
Yet, with your help, we’re piecing together the bigger picture. By analyzing the bug reports you send we’re able to see patterns and make sense of otherwise bewildering amounts of data.
For gardeners, what’s needed is simple actionable advice. That’s why we’ve developed our traffic-light system for pest alerts:
- Unlikely: These bugs probably won’t be around yet, but keep an eye out just in case.
- Warning Alert: These pests may be heading your way. Start checking your plants!
- Critical Alert: Take steps to prevent these pests. For guidance on what action to take, click on the name of the pest to view its Bug Guide.
2021 marks the second year of us beta-testing these predictions in the US, Canada, UK and Ireland, and we hope more countries can be added soon.
If you’d like more information on what insects might be in your area, go to TheBigBugHunt’s website and sign up for notifications.
You can also find The Big Bug Hunt on Facebook.