Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Lost Ladybug Project

I was researching a different topic when I stumbled across the Lost Ladybug Project. Here in Michigan we have been so overrun by the ladybug's stinky brown cousins, the asian beetle, that most of us haven't noticed that the classic ladybug is no longer around.
Besides being incredibly cool and charismatic ladybugs are also essential predators in both farms and forests that keep us from being overrun with pests (like aphids and mealybugs). In many areas the native ladybugs are being replaced by exotic ones. This has happened very quickly and we don’t know how this shift happened, what impact it will have (e.g. will the exotic species be able to control pests as well as our familiar native ones always have) and how we can prevent more native species from becoming so rare.
Cornell University is asking for help from the citizen scientist community to find out what's going on. The Lost Ladybug Project asks us to watch for ladybugs and, when we find them, photograph them and upload the photos and other information to their database. Anyone can do this; you can read here about the elementary school kids who made the first sighting in 14 years of a nine-spotted ladybug in the eastern US. There are clear instructions and a map of others' sitings on the website.

I think I've seen some nine-spot and two spot ladybugs in the last few years, but I wasn't thinking of them as a nearly extinct species or I would have paid more attention. The lovely ladybug is a reminder to me to slow down and pay attention to the little lovely details of my days.

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