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Join in the Big Bug Hunt to Beat Garden Pests

Major citizen science project tracks garden bugs to identify when and how they spread
by Benedct Vanheems
March 6, 2017

Have you ever longed to know when pests are going to attack your plants? A major international citizen science project plans to help you do exactly that by collecting information about garden bug behavior with the aim of notifying gardeners when pests are heading their way. Organizers of The Big Bug Hunt are inviting gardeners from across the country to report sightings of bugs as they appear. Now in its second year, the project has already found patterns of when and how key pests spread – but more reports will speed up development of the final pest-alert system. Reports can be made via The Big Bug Hunt website: BigBugHunt.com

Leading garden app developer Growing Interactive is working in collaboration with world-class university researchers to develop the most advanced pest prediction system available. By combining reports made by gardeners with the latest developments in computer analysis the project team can identify signature patterns in when and how pests spread. The aim is to provide gardeners with early-warning emails when pests are heading their way – great news for organic gardeners relying on preventative measures to outwit pests!

Of course, cutting-edge research like this doesn't happen overnight and The Big Bug Hunt team has major plans for the coming year as they examine how different weather patterns affect the way pests spread. Project Coordinator Jeremy Dore explains: “Last year we received more than 11,000 reports and with The Big Bug Hunt now firmly established we expect to receive even more. The more reports we get, the stronger the data and the sooner we can turn the results into an invaluable service for gardeners.

“After just one year we’ve already significantly improved methods of predicting major pests, such as aphids. By joining in with The Big Bug Hunt, gardeners have the opportunity to make a meaningful contribution towards tackling pests. A pest-alert system like the one we’re developing is within our grasp and stands to make organic control methods dramatically more effective.”

Any bug, from slugs to Japanese beetles, can be reported. The Big Bug Hunt is also tracking beneficial bugs such as bees, currently suffering serious population declines, to learn more about their range and spread.

Getting involved in The Big Bug Hunt is easy and you don't have to register (how refreshing!). Simply head to BigBugHunt.com to report a bug, which takes just seconds. The website includes detailed pest identification guides – with effective treatment and prevention ideas – and you have the option to sign up for updates, bug-busting emails and free downloadable charts.

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