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Discovery

299 EpisodesProduced by BBC World ServiceWebsite

Explorations in the world of science.

26:54

Killing Insects for Conservation

Prof Adam Hart stirred a hornet’s nest of controversy by asking the public to kill wasps for science. He explores why scientists kill insects to save them from extinction.

The work of the entomologist often involves the killing of insects in large numbers. This happens in the search for new species in the exploration of the planet’s biodiversity and in ecological research to monitor the health of wild insect populations and the impact that we are having on the environment. But the methods of insects scientists have come under criticism.

Last year presenter and entomologist Adam Hart was involved in a citizen science project aimed at surveying the abundance of various species of British wasp around the country. The survey entailed members of the public setting up lethal wasp traps in their gardens and sending the dead insects to the lab running the survey. Many people took part but the study also generated negative newspaper coverage and stinging criticism on social media. How can you save insects by killing them?

Next week, do insects experience pain and suffering?

Picture: Broad-Bellied Chaser, Credit: BBC

Producer: Andrew Luck-Baker

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