Friday, January 30, 2009

The Lost Ladybug Project

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Yes, there is such a thing as a Ladybug House and they are available from merchants online, including this one (the sweet song at this website is worth the visit!)........

Little did I know when I posted yesterday about the lack of ladybugs in our house this winter, placing the cause squarely (and likely erroneously) on our new replacement windows, that the comments I received afterward would lead me to The Lost Ladybug Project at Cornell University.
My initial google search hit on an updated Associated Press report featured at, dated September 29, 2008, that discussed the decline and disappearance of some species of Ladybugs.

full report is shocking, and awakened me to the realization that it's been a long time since I've seen the multi-spotted ladybug (officially called the nine-spotted or C9) that was commonplace in my childhood-through-young adulthood. The photo I featured in my post yesterday shows what must be, from the descriptions in the report, an imported Asian ladybug. All rights are reserved in the AP article and I'm hesitant to include excerpted paragraphs. So here are KEYWORDS/PHRASES found in the report (read the report at the link to flesh out the bulleted information below):

  • The nine-spotted ladybug
  • mentomologists call Coccinella novemnotata — or C-9
  • The decline of C-9 and some other native ladybugs
  • scientists have launched a nationwide project to help them understand why [note: link at end]
  • John Losey, a Cornell University entomologist leads the Lost Ladybug Project [note: link at end]
  • project recruiting citizen scientists, particularly children, to search for C-9 and other ladybug species and send photos of them to Cornell for identification and inclusion in a database [note: link at end]
  • outreach efforts targeted especially to 5- to 11-year-olds from Native American, rural, farming, migrant or low-income communities. . .[note: link at end]
  • ecological value of ladybugs is well known
  • are common predators of garden and agricultural pests
  • a popular cultural icon
  • recent surveys have found none in the Northeast since 1992
  • multicolored Asian ladybug introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Asian ladybug in homes
  • theories on disappearance
  • pilot phase of the Lost Ladybug Project - kids found a nine-spotted ladybug near their home in 2006, first C-9 documented in the eastern U.S. in 14 years [note: see link to Audubon video below as it features the children mentioned here]

Better yet, go directly to the source website for the Lost Ladybug Project to learn about the ladybugs' disappearance and this project hoping to identify why it's been happening. If you are a parent, grandparent, teacher, or mentor of children in the 5- to 11 age range this might be just the project you or they have been searching for to heighten an interest in science and to really make a difference.

The website features a listing of all the ladybugs submitted to the Lost Ladybug Project so far, categorized by species, state, and it's updated every 24 hours! Additionally, the site features a newly-released (January 2009) video produced by the Audubon Society. Titled Spotting the Ladybug, it discusses the species, providing fascinating info I never knew before (did you know the baby ladybug looks like a tiny alligator, and that in Switzerland the ladybug is known as "God's Little Fatty"?) Go here then click on the face of the smiling woman to view this great video.

Image and video hosting by TinyPicGod's Little Fatty thanks Writerquake readers whose interest in and concern about the ladybug were the impetus for a follow-up post about ladybugs.

Photo and graphic:



Melinda said...

Lydia, this is terrible to hear--and I really had no idea. I loved ladybugs so much as a child--and you know, I haven't seen a ladybug in forever. What a worthwhile post and I will definitely visit the links you have made available. Thank you. :)


francessa said...

Great links, Lydia, very interesting!

I'm going to read all this! In summer I always find a few ladybugs in the house (they're called Mary's beetles here), but not as many as, say, 20 years ago.

Ted Bagley said...

Neat stuff!

Wayfaring Wanderer said...

I am officially on the lookout!

distracted by shiny objects said...

Who knew...?? Very interesting. I'll look up the Project site. HoneyHaired Grrrl may just be interested, too.

Buddha said...

I just gave both my daughters digital cameras for Christmas.
This sounds like a fun project for them:)

How good are you with HTML editing?
Have you ever done it with your blog?

Lydia said...

@Melinda- I'm so happy for you to call it a worthwhile post. It seemed an important project for us all to know about. I'm definitely hoping to be lucky to get a shot of one/some to send for the database. Thanks for following the links, too. I'm going to buy a ladybug house from the place in the link, at least one.

@Francessa- Exciting that you'll be on the lookout too. I bet the project scientists will be interested in reports outside the US, but I haven't delved into the site enough yet to know exactly what country(ies) are included.

@Ted- Welcome and thanks for your comments. That darling in the photo with you might be enlisted in the project in a few years?

@Wayfaring Wanderer- Where you live seems, to me, perfectly situated to find ladybugs if they are in your area. Add you and your camera?....You're an asset to the Lost Ladybug Project!

@Distracted- So glad you'll be looking into the project more closely. And if HoneyHaired Grrrl might become involved then, as with WW above, I see her as an asset to the Lost Ladybug Project!

@Buddha- Spectacular Christmas presents for your daughters! Will you show them the site and see if their hearts and cameras will follow? How wonderful that will be!

As to HTML I've fiddled around with it. Actually for the first few months I had my blog I didn't check out what that "Compose" button was when I was doing a new post. That meant that all my early posts were done using the HTML mode! It was darned confusing, but at least the early exposure made me less afraid to try stuff out. I haven't done a back up of my blog, so I won't get too wild and crazy. What I really hope to do is transfer this all over to a new template for my first anniversary. But I don't know all the particulars and must do lots of reading. Why do you ask? :)

Steve Morozumi said...

how much of an impact does this have on our national and global ecosystem? it sounds pretty dire. i wonder what the primary cause of this is?

-Steve @ fluxlife

Anonymous said...

Such interesting stuff, Lydia, I suspect there must be more of the ladybug's we remember since those children found one in 2006, so let's not despair!

Kirie said...

This is fascinating and disturbing. Thank you for sharing all of this with us.


Di Mackey said...

I didn't realise either. I wonder how they're doing in Belgium. I was living somewhere, and I can't remember if it was here or Istanbul or a visit some place else and there was a kind of ladybug plague. But I only remember them being everywhere ... not where I was.

Leslie said...

Lydia- I'm glad you found your way over to my blog and that you'll be back.

I LOVE LADY BUGS! I don't see them so often either. Wonder why? I'm in Virginia and I think that they come here in the springtime-not sure. I like to paint lady bugs in murals on kids walls-they love 'em too.

I enjoyed reading both posts on the ladybugs and your profile too! Congrats on getting and staying sober-a difficult task to accomplish-old hat for you now!

Blessings, peace and love,


Darlene said...

First the Bees and now the Ladybugs. We are really destroying the ecological system with our pesticides, etc. We will pay a fearful price is balance isn't restored.

Lydia said...

@Steve- Hopefully, the scientists at Cornell will be able to answer your questions during the course of this project.

@Mibsy- Your attitude is the right one, I believe. After having an awareness of the problem/conditions we must be concerned/active, but should never give up hope that whatever has caused this can be solved. Giving up is giving in!

@Kirie- You are sure welcome and thanks for your interest.

@Di- You actually brought back a memory. I was in high school and on an outing with my best friend and her family on their new sailboat on Lake Tahoe. When we got out in the center area of the Lake there were literally thousands of frantically-swimming ladybugs on the water. I wonder if these events are natural for the species or an aberration.

@Leslie- Welcome over here, and thanks so much for your kind comments. I hope you'll be on the lookout this spring like never before for ladybugs and maybe can capture some shots for the project!

@Darlene- It really does panic me when I think of these declines and losses. That it doesn't concern everyone simply mystifies me.....but not all are as wise as you. Keep the faith that we can turn it around and welcome honeybees and ladybugs to our yards forever.

Honour said...

Fascinating post, Lydia. It just made me realize -- all throughout my childhood I also played with ladybugs, outside in the garden, in the house. you are right - they are rare visitiations now! How sad that I never noticed till now.
p.s. happy belated birthday :)

Lydia said...

@Honour- Thanks for the bday wishes and I hope that, in the future, we can celebrate the return of ladybugs to our lives. (Keep your camera handy in case you see any.)

Ted Bagley said...

My little man, he's almost 5 now, goes gonzo over bugs!

Lydia said...

@Ted- You know that saying "Cute as a bug in a rug"? Well, it doesn't apply here because your little man is way cuter!

Ted Bagley said...

His head comes off, too! But it screws back on.

Lydia said...

@Ted- And I have a feeling you probably have told him that!

Jennifer said...

From the Lost Ladybug Project page: "Besides being incredibly cool and charismatic ladybugs are also essential predators." It's true, they are incredibly cool and charismatic.

My son and I were just talking today about what ladybugs eat and how helpful they are (he is somewhat obsessed with what things eat. I blame the division of dinosaurs into plant eaters or meat eaters. Meat eaters are much more cool, apparently). Even though he's a bit young to document certain things, I've been amazed at the sort of details he notices. So maybe we'll try to be a part of the project.

Thanks for an interesting and informative post.

Ted Bagley said...

How'd you know?

Lydia said...

@Jennifer- Wow, you've already done some research at the project site! He might be younger than lots of the kids involved with this but his curiosity and intelligence sound equal to the task. :)

@Ted- It sounds like something a dad would say.

pumpkin said...

Not using pesticides (or herbicides) has been a driving passion with me for decades. I'm delighted that people are finally waking up to the devastation their use has done to our planet and it's lifeforms. It is so absolutely pleasureful to watch the birds and bees and all the insects visiting my garden and know they will find no harm there. Thank you for the links and for spreading the word.

Saunas said...

That is creepy, doesn't it freak everyone else out that there is one more thing missing from this planet that really shouldn't be gone... I need a soak

Lydia said...

@pumpkin- Because a much later comment arrived in August I am now reading your wonderful comment too. Thank you so much for your interest and I hope all is well with you.

@Saunas- Well, it certainly freaks me out. We need those little guys, and the honeybees too. Let's hope the dawning of a new realization comes soon and our planet's diverse species will survive. Thank you for your visit.



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