Rothamsted Insect Survey Online Database

N - Datasets

Rothamsted Insect Survey 2022. Rothamsted Insect Survey Online Database. Rothamsted Research.

AuthorsRothamsted Insect Survey

The Rothamsted Insect Survey (RIS) has been running two trap networks since 1964. Its long-term data are unique, providing information on aphids, larger moths and many other migrating insects to scientists, growers, conservation organisations, individuals and policymakers. As such, the networks represent the most comprehensive standardised long-term data on insects in the World and have a wide range of fundamental and applied uses.

The Rothamsted Insect Survey is supported by a wide variety of organisations and individuals. We recognise contributions made by research institutes, universities, non-governmental organisations, private volunteers and Rothamsted staff past and present, who have either provided administrative and software support, hosted light-traps or suction-traps or identified the catch.

Edits to version 1.0 are provided in additional information.

Year of Publication2022
PublisherRothamsted Research
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Web address (URL)
Keywordslight traps
research networks
Publication dates
Print03 Oct 2022
FunderBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Related Output
Is described by
Is new version of
Funder project or codeThe Rothamsted Insect Survey - National Capability [2017-2022]
The Rothamsted Insect Survey [2012-2017]
Data files
Copyright license
CC BY-NC 4.0
File Access Level
Data collection period01 Jan 1991
Geographic location
Great Britain
Data collection method

The light-trap network currently comprises around 80 traps across the UK and Ireland with most traps run by volunteers who contribute data to the network. Overall, more than 600 traps are held within our database, some of which have been running for nearly 60 years and one since 1933. The Rothamsted light-traps use 200w clear tungsten-filament bulbs and most traps are emptied daily throughout the year. Over time, the trap network has caught over 1,500 species, primarily macro-moths with a small number of micro-moths. The samples generated are generally representative of the 'field scale'. Daily records are available but samples are not stored.

The suction-trap network began operation on the 29th April 1964 and continues to this day to monitor the aerial fauna migrating at height of 12.2m. Overall, nearly 40 traps are held within our database, some of which have been running for nearly 60 years. Essentially, these suction-traps can be thought of as upside-down hoovers that indiscriminately catch small to medium-sized insects (≤5mg), particularly aphids. Suction-trap catches are monitored daily during the aphid season and weekly at other times and tend to representative of landscape scale insect movements.

Today, the suction-trap network currently comprises 16 traps (12 in England, 4 in Scotland), each 12.2 metres tall that continuously measure the aerial density of flying aphids and provide daily records during the main aphid flying season (April–November) and weekly records at other times. Just over 400 of the 600 aphid species on the British list aphid have been recorded to date. The network provides farmers with information on the timing and size of aphid migrations to prevent heavy prophylactic use of insecticides. Samples, both of aphids and ‘bycatch’, are stored and are available for further research. Samples are representative of the ‘landscape scale’. The four traps in Scotland are operated by our colleagues at Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture, Edinburgh.

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