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German insect counting summer is about to begin

A bumblebee flies among poppies near a building in the banking district on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Frankfurt, Germany. Insects arrive.  The citizen science project is called

A bumblebee flies among poppies near a building in the banking district on Friday, May 24, 2024 in Frankfurt, Germany. Insects arrive. The citizen science project is called “Summer of Insects” and will run from May 31 to June 9 and August 2 to August 11, 2024. Photo credit: AP

In a green patch between Berlin’s Natural History Museum and a busy street, bumblebees scuttle between flowers, while ladybugs make their way along leaves crawling with aphids and bugs.

Gardens, balconies, edges, fields, woods and moors across Germany will be the scene of this year’s “Summer of Insects”, organized by the German Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) for its seventh year. The environmental group invites people to spend an hour counting the insects they see within a 10-meter (33-foot) radius.

“We found that some insects that are usually only found in the South may be spreading further north,” said Laura Breitkreuz, a biodiversity and entomology specialist at NABU. That includes the purple carpenter bee, which she calls Described as signs of intensifying climate change and warmer temperatures.

Over time, people appear to be recognizing more insects—a key goal of the citizen science project, which is not designed to provide precise scientific monitoring but to provide researchers with information about trends and Unexpected insights.

Insects are an important part of ecosystems and are essential for pollination, food chains and maintaining soil productivity. But insect populations, from bees to butterflies, have been declining in recent decades — a decline often blamed on human-made causes such as the use of damaging chemicals, destruction of natural habitats and climate change.

Breitkreuz pointed to a lack of awareness of “what’s crawling outside the door” as a contributing factor. “It’s very important to us to show people how important, great and interesting insects are,” she said.

Organizers have prepared a form and a mobile app to help people identify and report sightings of fireflies and lacewings at two insect count events this year. The events, taking place from May 31 to June 9 and August 2 to 11, give insect counters the opportunity to learn about flying and crawling insects in different seasons. No equipment is required to join.

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