Where have all the ladybugs gone?

I love cool projects that really show science at work, especially when they include education for kids and the general public, and the Lost Ladybug Project is one that I really like. It seems that researchers noticed that native species of ladybugs are disappearing (largely being replaced by Asian ladybugs that were introduced into North America by the USDA to combat crop pests) and nobody knows for sure what happened to them. Especially of interest is a species known as C-9 (for its nine spots), which used to be so common that it was made the state insect of New York in 1989. Unfortunately, there hadn’t really been a confirmed sighting of C. 9 ladybugs since the 1970s and a survey in 1992 could not find a single one. However, one of the big problems with field surveys is that there is always too much ground to cover and not enough people, so entomologists at Cornell University came up with the idea of the Lost Ladybug Project, which is being supported by a large grant from the NSF. Basically, the idea is to get as many people out there looking for ladybugs, and documenting the specimens they find with pictures, which are then uploaded to the Lost Ladybug website. Anyone can help, and you can get all the particulars here

(There is a simple Google Maps mashup showing the locations of some of the ladybug finds, but there is so much more they could be doing with the mapping end of this project, so I hope there are plans to improve it)

Via MSNBC

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