Rothamsted Research

where knowledge grows

About Insect Survey

The Rothamsted Insect Survey has been running two networks of traps since 1964. These provide data on aphids, larger moths and some other insects. These are the most comprehensive standardised long-term data on insects in the World and have a wide range of fundamental and applied uses.

The suction-trap network currently comprises 15 traps (11 in England, 4 in Scotland), each 12.2 metres tall. Samples are representative of a large area (e.g. radius of 100km for aphids). Daily records of aphids are available (weekly in winter) and most samples are kept, providing the potential to work on other insect groups. The four traps in Scotland are operated by our colleagues at SASA, Edinburgh.

Traps based on the Rothamsted design are now operated in Europe and further afield. In some countries only a subset of the aphid species is identified and not all insects are kept. However, all available data are being incorporated into a single database created originally under the auspices of the EU Thematic Network 'EXAMINE', and currently being updated.

The light-trap network currently comprises 84 traps. The samples are representative of a local area (e.g. radius of 100m). Daily records of larger moths are available but samples are not stored. Samples from the majority of traps are identified by expert volunteers.

The Insect Survey is a BBSRC-supported National Capability and welcomes collaboration with those interested in using the datasets or specimen collections. Additional funding comes through projects funded by the British Beet Research Organisation, Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board, NERC and Defra. The traps in Scotland are financed by the Scottish Government.

National Capability

A national capability is a BBSRC-funded resource intended to benefit the scientific community in general. These can be facilities as well as opensource datasets. 

National Capabilities

Rothamsted Insect Survey

Operates two national networks for monitoring insect populations in the UK

North Wyke Farm Platform

Provides the research community access to a range of in situ state-of-the-art instrumentation in hydrologically isolated fields and farms to better address key issues in sustainable agriculture.


A database of interactions between pathogens and their hosts maintained at Rothamsted Research with international input.

Long-Term Experiments

These have been running since the mid 19th Century, provide a unique experimental system and archive of soil and plant samples.

See also