Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-13-2019, 10:07 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 21,685

Is part of the windshield effect just that cars are more aerodynamic

Insects have been disappearing, they are something like 80% less common now than they were just a few decades ago.

There is something called the windshield effect, which means as recently as the 90s people remember their car windshields being full of dead bugs. Now that rarely happens.

Part of that is that there are fewer insects, but someone mentioned it could be due to cars being more aerodynamic now. Instead of hitting the windshield, they fly over or around the car.

Is there any proof of this?
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion
Old 02-14-2019, 01:48 AM
kk fusion is offline
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 461
Josef Settele made experiments with less aerodynamic off-road vehicles and found that they still gather a considerable amount of insects. If you want to dig through his publications, it's probably in there somewhere.
Old 02-14-2019, 03:03 PM
Filbert is online now
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 5,356
It's probably part of the effect, but people with vintage vehicles have also reported a drastic reduction in dead bugs, plus the reduction has also been shown by other insect sampling methods.

The car hits are more widely reported because that's something people can see for themselves, rather than it being the major data source.
Old 02-14-2019, 03:59 PM
Colophon is offline
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Hampshire, England
Posts: 13,552
Or perhaps insects have evolved to become smart enough to stay away from roads
Old 02-14-2019, 06:01 PM
tampora is offline
Join Date: Feb 2015
Posts: 25
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Insects have been disappearing, they are something like 80% less common now than they were just a few decades ago.
Old 02-14-2019, 08:05 PM
Shagunathor is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 39
In Germany:

"Our analysis estimates a seasonal decline of 76%, and mid-summer decline of 82% in flying insect biomass over the 27 years of study."

There are links to this and other papers in this pop-science article:
Old 02-14-2019, 08:44 PM
Ruken is offline
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: DC
Posts: 7,225
I was at a natural gas vehicles conference a few years ago and a guy who had converted class 8 trucks to NGVs said he tested their aerodynamics with a "redneck wind tunnel", which meant he drove it and counted bug splatters. So there are bugs to splatter if you build it to splatter.

But I think insect surveys are conducted other ways. I vaguely recall something about netting tall grass back when I worked for an environmental engineer.


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:37 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to:

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017