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The Lost Ladybug Project

The Lost Ladybug Project

Ever wondered what’s up with all the ladybugs hanging out in your house during the winter?Read this fascinating labybug blog from Rebecca Heller-Steinberg at NOFA-NY's Certification Office

At a recent meeting, I met Leslie Allee from The Lost Ladybug Project (LLP) and she told me that most ladybugs that overwinter indoors are the non-native Multicolored Asian ladybug, Harmonia axyridis, which was originally introduced from Japan for biological control of other insects. (The rare native two-spotted ladybug, Adalia bipunctata, also overwinters indoors but it's pretty easy to tell apart.) Leslie also said that numbers of native ladybugs have drastically declined in the last 20 years while populations of their non-native counterparts have boomed. The LLP is focused on figuring out why this is happening and what impacts it may have.

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One really neat thing about the Lost Ladybug Project is that it is a citizen science project. Dr. Rebecca Rice Smyth from the LLP told me that before the project was started, entomologists were aware of the changes in ladybug populations but were having trouble locating some native species, including the NY state insect, the nine-spotted ladybug, Coccinella novemnotata. By asking citizens to find and photograph ladybugs, the LLP has gathered a larger pool of data about where rare native ladybugs are present and in what quantities. Anyone can participate by going to the Lost Ladybug Project website (www.lostladybug.org), learning about the different types, and submitting ladybug photos and information through the website or the free LLP app. Organic farms and gardens are especially great places to gather data because they are likely to have more ladybugs present.

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