Tracking Lost Ladybugs

By Charlie Nardozzi

The old nursery rhyme goes, "Ladybug, ladybug fly away home ?" It seems the insects have taken this song a little too literally. Over the last 20 years, several of our native ladybug species have become extremely rare. Ladybugs are good bugs. They are essential predators of many pests that attack our gardens, such as aphids and mealybugs.

In many areas the native ladybugs are being replaced by exotic ladybug species. This is a concern because native ladybugs are better adapted to the ecosystems where they have historically evolved.

Researchers at Cornell University are trying to document what has happened to our native ladybugs and are asking for your help. The first step is to determine what species are prevalent, and how many individual insects there are of each species. To do this they have started the Lost Ladybug Project. They are asking homeowners and gardeners to collect and photograph any ladybugs they see and enter the data on the Cornell Web site, along with the time, date, location, and habitat where the insects were found. This sounds like a great kids? project!

For more information on the Lost Ladybug Project and how to participate, go to: Lost Ladybug Project.

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