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- January 1, 2007 - December 31, 2007
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impact statement impact
- Our research findings and citizen science project have been chronicled in over 100 sources for the popular press, including TV, radio, webcasts, newspapers, magazines, and books. Our citizen science program has already made its first major discovery. In October of 2007 a rare non-spotted ladybug was found in Virginia by a nonspecialist who had heard one of my presentations on the plight of this beneficial insect. Less than three decades ago this native species was one of the most common ladybugs in the US and was named New York`s state insect. Less than ten individuals had been collected anywhere in the US since 2000 and none had been collected in the Northeast for over fourteen years. The discovery of this individual confirms that it is not extinct and may hold the key to saving this and other rare species.
impact statement issue
- Over the past twenty years several native ladybug species that were once very common have become extremely rare (see details on the nine spotted ladybug pictured left and the two spotted too). During this same time several species of ladybugs from other places have greatly increased both their numbers and range. Besides being incredibly cool and charismatic ladybugs are also essential predators in both farms and forests that keep us from being overrun with pests (like aphids and mealybugs). In many areas the native ladybugs are being replaced by exotic ones. This has happened very quickly and we don`t know how this shift happened, what impact it will have (e.g. will the exotic species be able to control pests as well as our familiar native ones always have) and how we can prevent more native species from becoming so rare. Each kind of ladybug eats different amounts of pests. To be able to help the rare ladybugs and maintain healthy crops scientists need to have detailed information on which species are still out there and how many individuals are around. Insect scientists (entomologists) at Cornell can identify the different ladybug species but there are too few of us to keep pace with the rapid changes in the ladybug numbers and we can't sample in enough places to find the really rare ones.
impact statement response
- In response to our own findings on the impact of agricultural practices on beneficial insects, their overall decline, and the lack of public appreciation of the importance of these we expanded our Lost Ladybug Project in 2007. In June 2007 the Lost Ladybug collaborators sucessfully applied, along with for almost two million dollars from the National Science Foundation to expand this program in New York and then extend it to a national level. Our goals are to educate youth regarding the importance of biodiversity and conservation and to recruit them to participate in our "citizen science" program to determine the current status of native and exotic ladybugs in the US. Participants can make use of our educational materials and activities and then collect ladybugs in a defined area, take pictures of the ladybugs with digital cameras, and upload the pictures using a web-based interface for species identification and inclusion in a nationwide database. As "citizen scientists", children and adults will be part of a real scientific experiment and contribute valuable information on these important beneficial insects.
impact statement summary
- Ladybugs are important because they provide natural control of insect pests of plants, particularly aphids. Unfortunately, native ladybugs seem to be declining, some seem to have declined to near extinction in the last decade and these changes may interfere with our ability to produce the crops we rely on. We have developed the Lost Ladybug Project to teach non-specialists about ladybugs and the importance of biodiversity and to recruit them to participate in our search for ladybugs.
Other private funding
- National Science Foundation - Informal Science Education
- Both Basic Research and Applied Research
- Losey, John E. Cornell Faculty Member