Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Looking for Ladybugs

My son came home from school the other day and told me that some scientists are looking for

Ladybug LadybugImage by Thomas Hawk via Flickr

ladybugs. I haven't been on a ladybug expedition lately, but a brief Internet search did help me find the scientists.

The Lost Ladybug Project was started at Cornell University and seeks to understand the changes that have been taking place over the past twenty years with ladybugs. Some common ladybugs have become rare, some types have increased in numbers, and others have relocated to new habitats. Ladybugs are important because they help keep plants alive by eating the pest insects (e.g. aphids).

A ladybug standing on a leaf. Photograph taken...Image via Wikipedia

They are looking to kids to help out by having them find, collect, and photograph ladybugs. If you happen to find a ladybug, consider photographing it and uploading the image on the Lost Ladybug website to contribute to the research project. The site even shows how to use nets to find them in fields - maybe a good school science project.

A few years ago, my children's bathroom was infested with ladybugs. I have never seen other bugs in the bathroom and I have no idea how they got in the house. Well, maybe the occasional "Mom! There's a spider in the bathtub!" but this was really strange. We collected and released them and they never came back. Now, I wish I had photographed them!

Some other interesting ladybug facts:
* Over 500 species have been identified in the US; 4500 in the world
* They live up to one year after the pupal stage
* Their predators include spiders, stinkbugs, and toads
* They are part of the beetle family

Happy Ladybug Searching!

Image via Wikipedia

Hippodamia hiding within a flower bud

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