Youth and Education news
MAY 1, 2010 VOLUME 3
Looking for the Lost Ladybug
By Alicia Graef
Condensed by Native Village
There are more than 5,000 species of
ladybugs around the earth. About 450 are
Native to North America.
Scientists are now asking children, adults,
families, educators and everyone help our
Native ladybugs by joining in "The Lost
Ladybugs were once
a very common insect in the U.S. and
Canada. They control pests that
attack food plants and balance our
ecosystems. However, in the last 20
years, invasive ladybugs have crowded them out,
and Native ladybugs began vanishing. The
invaders include the multicolored Asian ladybug,
checkerboard ladybug and the
“This [invasion] has happened very quickly and we
don't know how this shift happened, what
impact it will have, and how we can
prevent more native species from
becoming so rare,” said John E. Losey
from Cornell University.
Invasive and Destructive
The larger, rounder multicolored Asian
ladybug was introduced to help control
scale bugs. While they
reproduce very quickly and
eat a lot of aphids, they
also feed on ladybug larvae.
It varies greatly in
appearance -- from bold
spots to completely spotless
and everything in between.
Insects that have not yet
overwintered are orange in
color. Older insects are
checkerboard ladybug is small and yellow.
It hitched a ride from Europe through the
St. Lawrence River in the 1960s and has
It hardly has
spots at all because they
fuse to form a checkerboard
pattern. It is small and
This European beetle was
introduced to North America
to control of aphids. It
has caused a reduction in
the number of native beetles
throughout the East.
In June 2007 the Lost Ladybug Project received $2,000,000
from the National Science Foundation to
expand its program. The goal is to use citizen
science to help search for the bugs. Ladybugs
are collected into vials with twigs and
drops of water. The date, time and place
they were found are written down. The
ladybugs are placed on a gray square
and their pictures are taken. Digital
images are sent to the project's
website, or color prints can be
mailed to Cornell University, home of
the Ladybug Project.
The ladybugs should then be returned,
unharmed, to where they were found.
This information will help scientists
understand the shifting changes on
earth, how they affect crops, and better
track rare species
and the ecosystems where they live.
In turn, youth will learn about how the ladybug
nature, biodiversity and conservation. Educational
materials, books, collection vials and
nets are provided through Cornell
The Ladybug Project's website also
provides more information. It offers an
automated identification feature and real-time feedback
on collected species.
Ladybug lore, myths, songs and
culturally based stories explain the relationships
between ladybugs, pests and our food.
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