Lost Ladybug Project
Reported September 2011
NEW YORK (Ivanhoe Newswire) – Ladybugs live just six weeks and can devour more than 5,000 aphids. Not only do they help farmers out – legend has it, if one lands on you it’s good luck! Trouble is, there are fewer and fewer of them. Now the call is going out to kids across the country—help find ladybugs and save a species.
One group of kids is getting a lesson on ladybugs. Not only are they learning about the tiny insects, but they’re helping scientists track them down.
“I caught two,” Caitlin Hilts, a 13-year-old, told Ivanhoe.
“We came out here so we could find ladybugs and count up how many we got,” Cayla Ostraender, a 12-year-old told Ivanhoe.
The lost ladybug project is a nationwide hunt for ladybugs. Entomologists – the bug experts -- need help understanding why some species have become rare and hard to find. Scientists need kids and adults to go outside, take pictures of any ladybugs they see and send the pics to www.lostladybug.org.
"Over 11,000 pictures have been sent in so far,” Leslie Allee, Ph.D, an Entomologist at Cornell University told Ivanhoe.
Researchers catalog and identify each species of ladybug from every photo sent in. Then map out where the insects were found across the country. The project hopes to develop the largest, most accurate ladybug database ever and to involve more than 10,000 children.
"We are very interested in three species in particular, the nine spotted ladybug, the two spotted ladybug and the transverse ladybug which actually doesn’t have spots but has lines across its back,” Dr. Allee explained.
We need ladybugs because they feed on other pests that destroy crops. Scientists hope to better understand what's happening to the bug population and help them thrive again.
"Mostly we want people to have fun with science and to also feel that they can make a difference in the world," Dr. Allee said.
What's the best part of getting involved?
"Catching the ladybugs and seeing what kind I found," Ostraender concluded.
Helping science in a small way and hopefully saving a species.
Click here to Go Inside This Science and View Video or contact:
John Losey, PhD
Department of Entomology
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