Help Save the Ladybugs!

Beyond being cute bugs, lady beetles (aka ladybugs or ladybirds) are incredibly helpful creatures, as many gardeners can testify. They protect crops by eating certain types of pests, and their presence reduces the need for insecticides.

Unfortunately, these gardeners’ best friends started rapidly declining in the 1970′s and ’80s according to researchers, and today some native species of North America are on the brink of extinction.

So where did all the ladybugs go?

The Lost Ladybug Project is looking into this question. The project, which began in 2000 after Cornell scientists partnered with 4-H master gardeners, is trying to find out where native types of ladybugs are living today and why so many have disappeared. An invasive beetle species imported from Europe and Asia is one possible culprit.

The Lost Ladybug Project has an unconventional research team. Over 50 percent of the participants in the project are under the age of 14, according to USA Today. And two key discoveries were made by 11-year old, Jilene, and 10 year-old, Jonathan back in 2006.

Approaching their goals with a “citizen’s science” model, leaders of The Lost Ladybug Project are encouraging anyone and everyone to help locate ladybugs: “Find ‘em, photograph ‘em, and send ‘em,” they ask. John Losey, co-founder of the project, firmly believes that “citizen science is the best way to educate and enthuse volunteers about the process of science and the best way to shed light on major environmental problems,” according to the group’s website.

The project is specifically working to find and preserve three species: the nine-spotted or C9s, the transverse and the two-spotted.

Check out www.lostladybug.org for all kinds of interesting information about ladybugs. The site includes lesson plans, games, coloring books, and even a song–all focused on teaching kids to appreciate ladybugs and to participate in preserving the species.

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230 comments

Loesje vB
Loesje Najoan2 years ago

I see a lot of ladybugs and some bees in my garden. I agree plant & protect trees for life.............

Elisa F.
Elisa F.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing.

Sabine H.
Sabine H.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing!

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra3 years ago

Thank you Megan, for Sharing this!

Dale Overall

Hopefully the native ladybugs can survive the invasion and weather the storm of the invasive species of ladybugs.

This is a fascinating and delightful insect and would hope that native species in Ontario and elsewhere are strong enough to survive.

Isabel C.
Isabel C.6 years ago

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
England - June 26 2010
(from Coventry Telegraph)

Invasive Harlequiin Ladybirds are being attacked by native parasitic wasps and flies, scientists said today, as they urged members of the public to help them investigate the phenomenon.

The Harlequin Ladybirds from Asia, which were introduced in continental Europe to control pest insects on crops and have since spread to the UK on fruit and flowers and by being blown across the Channel, have become a comon sight in the past decade.

Scientists have warned their arrival in the UK is likely to threaten more than 1,000 native species.

The bug is a "voracious" predator, which preys on a wide variety of insects, including the larvae of other ladybirds, caterpillars and even fruit, and out-competes native species.

But now it appears nature is fighting back, with tiny native wasps and flies which commonly lay their eggs in native ladybirds - causing death to the host - now attacking the Harlequins.

Pat Tyler
Pat Tyler6 years ago

Lady bugs are not as many as I use to see growing up. we need more.
pat

Liz Thompson
Elisabeth T.6 years ago

Heartbreaking news...

Shelley R.
Shelley R.6 years ago

Both my uncle and sister have mini-farms, and I gave each of them a ladybug house, in the hopes that at least some of the ladybugs will stay around. I don't know if they were effective.

Alison A.
Alison A.6 years ago

Thanks Isabel, yes I am in England.

I normally spend a lot of time in my garden during the summer months, but in recent years I have not seen as many ladybirds as I used to see when I was a child.

I will take a lot more notice this year, thanks for the info. x